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Singing activists interrupt U.S. coal-focused event at UN climate conference

By Chris Mooney

Demonstrators interrupted a U.S. government event at the United Nations climate conference in Germany on Monday, protesting the Trump administration’s support for coal-fired power plants and the president’s intention to pull the United States out of an international climate pact.

At the U.N. climate conference in Bonn, demonstrators interrupted the event following a presentation by White House energy policy adviser George David Banks. The event was titled “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation.”

The protesters, who delayed the event for roughly seven minutes amid the talk by the next speaker, sang a version of the country music song “God Bless the U.S.A.” with lyrics altered for an anti-coal message.

“Excellent singing,” said Banks. “I think we should do Karaoke after this.”

The interruption underscores the controversy over the panel, as well as the broader animosity toward the Trump administration at the climate conference.

President Trump has announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, but technically the country cannot withdraw for three more years. Meanwhile, the few remaining countries not initially part of the agreement — Syria, Nicaragua — have since voiced their support, leaving the United States isolated and upping the frustration with the Trump administration’s climate policies.

That frustration spilled over at the panel event. Banks and other panelists, including Holly Krutka, an official at major U.S. coal company Peabody Energy, argued that coal will be with us for some time and it should be made as clean as possible.