Fifty young U.S. clean energy activists stormed the stage today in Copenhagen during a live webcast organized by Americans for Prosperity and featuring climate denier Lord Christopher Monckton.
When the youth group interrupted the webcast to deliver the message that real Americans want clean energy and a fair climate treaty, Monckton went ballistic, calling the students “crazed Hitler youth” and “Nazis.”
The incident was not likely the intended result Americans for Prosperity hoped for as it launched the COP15 version of its “Hot Air Tour” (a.k.a. denial-a-palooza). AFP sent its team to Copenhagen “to make sure that our side of the story is told.” But their live event today – complete with the student protest – was webcast to over forty climate denier rallies taking place in cities across the United States.
SustainUS reports that “a paltry audience of five conference attendees” attended the event to hear Monckton’s (planned) speech, with the balance of the audience comprised of AFPers and the youth activists (who entered surreptitiously in small groups before taking the stage with their clean energy message).
The young activists, representing a number of youth action groups including SustainUS, the Sierra Student Coalition, the Cascade Climate Network, and other American youth NGOs, kicked off the protest by holding banners in front of the cameras reading “Climate Disaster Ahead” and “Clean Energy Now.”
When AFP staffers ripped the banners out of their hands, the students began a five-minute chant of “Real Americans for Prosperity are Americans for Clean Energy,” leaving AFP organizers scratching their heads about what to do.
Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips and his camera crew tried unsuccessfully to focus the lens more tightly on Monckton as he continued speaking, hoping to take back control of the event despite the protest in the background. With several of the youth activists clustered around the podium, AFP kept the cameras rolling, continuing to stream the footage to the broader audience back in the U.S.
That’s when Monckton let loose, saying live on camera: “You are listening now to the shouts in the background of the Hitler youth.”
Monckton’s tirade aside, the American youths had a clear message to deliver, highlighting the fact that “clean energy creates jobs.” Rachel Barge, a 24-year-old entrepreneur from San Francisco, CA who was the first young person to raise her voice at the event, said afterwards that “These climate action delayers and science deniers are stealing bold, new economic opportunities from the American public.”
That sentiment was echoed by Laura Comer, a 21-year-old from Strongsville, Ohio who also participated in the action. Comer said, “We’re representing the majority of Americans on this, particularly young Americans. The real America wants clean energy – not more fossil fuel-funded lies about the science.”
Update: For some reason, Americans for Prosperity enjoyed the stunt so much, they posted their own video of the protest. Watch AFP’s own footage of the “radical protesters” (a.k.a. students with a non-violent, coherent message) as they “attack” AFP, (or so AFP says). Note that Monckton’s tirade is not included in AFP’s version.
UPDATE: I interviewed Monckton briefly outside the Bella Center about his “Hitler youth” comment. Here’s what he had to say (along with some fascinating delusions about coal and oil, which Monckton claims are as clean as wind and solar power):