KATOWICE, Poland — President Trump’s top White House adviser on energy and climate stood before the crowd of some 200 people on Monday and tried to burnish the image of coal, the fossil fuel that powered the industrial revolution — and is now a major culprit behind the climate crisis world leaders are meeting here to address.
“We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability,” said Wells Griffith, Trump’s adviser.
Mocking laughter echoed through the conference room. A woman yelled, “These false solutions are a joke!” And dozens of people erupted into chants of protest.
The protest was a piece of theater, and so too was the United States’ public embrace of coal and other dirty fuels at an event otherwise dedicated to saving the world from the catastrophic effects of climate change. The standoff punctuated the awkward position the American delegation finds itself in as career bureaucrats seek to advance the Trump administration’s agenda in an international arena aimed at cutting back on fossil fuels.