Indigenous and youth groups disrupted a U.S. government event at the U.N. climate talks Monday, criticizing the Trump administration’s policy of backing the extraction of fossil fuels, the burning of which increases global warming.
About 100 protesters stood up and began chanting “keep it in the ground” — a reference to ending the extraction of coal, oil and natural gas — shortly after the start of the panel called “U.S. Innovative Technologies Spur Economic Dynamism” on the sidelines of the meeting in Katowice, Poland.
As cameras swarmed around them, some of the protesters explained how their communities’ lives are affected by fossil fuel extraction. After several minutes, the activists left the room chanting “shame on you.”
The protest mirrored a similar action taken during a U.S.-hosted panel at last year’s climate talks in Bonn, Germany.
Preston Wells Griffith, a Trump administration adviser speaking at this year’s panel, said after the stunt that the U.S. will continue extracting fossil fuels going forward, including through hydraulic fracking, and warned against “alarmism” over climate change.
The panel’s premise — that fossil fuels can be made “clean” through innovation — stands at odds with recommendations from scientists that countries should shift their energy generation to renewable sources as soon as possible or risk catastrophic levels of global warming by the end of the century.
Investors, too, have backed a shift away from fossil fuels. On Monday, more than 450 pension funds and insurance companies, with over $32 trillion in assets, called on governments to phase out coal-fired power plants and put a meaningful price on carbon to help tackle climate change.
At the weekend, the Trump administration sided with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in blocking endorsement of a key scientific report on keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) — the most ambitious target in the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Washington has announced that it’s withdrawing from the Paris agreement, but has sent a small delegation to the summit in Poland because the U.S. is technically still part of the accord.
Ministers and senior officials arrived Monday in Katowice for the second half of the meeting, which still has numerous hurdles to take before the scheduled end on Dec. 14.
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