Bonn protesters’ message: No to fossil fuels

Anyone could have seen this coming.

The nearly-invisible U.S. delegation to the U. N. climate change conference scheduled a panel discussion touting the benefits of fossil fuels on Monday night. The closely secured event was carefully managed, with some attendees lining up 45 minutes in advance to get a seat.

As it turned out, protesters were lining up, too. As attendees filed in, a loose coalition representing environmental-justice groups and campaigners against fossil fuels surrounded the doorway and chanted, “Keep it in the ground!”–the same phrase hecklers used days earlier to protest Gov. Jerry Brown’s oil policies as the governor delivered a speech at the conference.

Once the doors were closed and the event began, demonstrators who had made it inside drowned out the proceedings with lusty singing while those outside recited: “What do we want? Environmental justice! When do we want it? Now!” The panelists—representatives of coal and nuclear energy companies—sat silently.

Outside, the chanting grew. Eventually throngs of demonstrators poured into a main hall, taking over a stage.

The protesters roared when the U.S. organizers capitulated and opened the doors to the conference room an hour before the anticipated end, releasing the attendees into a maelstrom of song and chant.

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