Demonstrators at a presentation by the United States delegation to the United Nations climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, on 13 November 2017. Photo: Philipp Guelland / European Pressphoto Agency

By Lisa Friedman and Brad Plumer
13 November 2017

BONN, Germany (The New York Times) – The Trump administration made its debut at a United Nations conference on climate change on Monday by giving a full-throated defense of fossil fuels and nuclear energy as answers to driving down global greenhouse gas emissions.

The forum — the only official appearance by the United States delegation during the annual two-week climate gathering of nearly 200 nations — illustrated how sharply the administration’s views are at odds with those of many key participants in the climate negotiations.

George D. Banks, special adviser to President Trump on international energy issues, led a panel with top American energy executives. “Without question, fossil fuels will continue to be used, and we would argue that it’s in the global interest to make sure when fossil fuels are used that they be as clean and efficient as possible,” Mr. Banks said. “This panel is controversial only if we chose to bury our heads in the sand.”

But even before the Trump team could make its case, the panel was disrupted for more than 10 minutes by scores of chanting and singing demonstrators. The protesters then walked out, leaving the room half empty. Throughout the remainder of the presentation, audience members shouted down and mocked White House officials who attempted to explain away President Trump’s stated view that global warming is a hoax.

It was a rude reception for the Trump administration at the first major United Nations climate conference since President Trump took office and declared that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord signed by more than 195 nations in 2015. Mr. Trump has filled top environmental posts with officials who have expressed doubt about established climate science, including studies published by numerous federal agencies.

President Trump, who ran on a pledge to revive the American coal industry and whose cabinet includes a number of prominent oil and gas enthusiasts, sent his team here with a clear message — that extracting and using significant amounts of oil, gas and coal would be a priority of the administration.

The American presentation came the same day that a new study showed that emissions were rising worldwide after three years on a plateau. Researchers said the emissions growth was driven largely by increased burning of coal in China and India.

“The question is not if we will continue to use coal, but how,” said Holly Krutka, vice president of coal generation and emissions technologies at Peabody Energy.

Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who has spent tens of millions of dollars on a campaign to shut down coal plants, said, “Promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit.” Mr. Bloomberg, who is attending part of the Bonn conference, this week donated $50 million to environmental groups to help countries shift away from coal, starting in Europe. [more]

Protesters Jeer as Trump Team Promotes Coal at U.N. Climate Talks

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