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Does Trump believe climate change is real?

The US president and his administration seem reluctant to state whether he still believes climate change is a hoax.

world Updated: Jun 03, 2017 22:11 IST
Yashwant Raj
Donald Trump announcing that he will pull the US out of the Paris climate change accord on Thursday.
Donald Trump announcing that he will pull the US out of the Paris climate change accord on Thursday.(AP)

Withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord, President Donald Trump sought to assure worried allies and the rest of the world that America remained committed to “robust efforts to protect the environment”, but he and his aides will not say if he still believes climate change is a hoax.

Trump’s personal view on the issue are under focus because he spoke about renegotiating the agreement or work on a “new transaction”, as he called it. But how does anyone negotiate climate change — if at all, because most world leaders have said Paris was irreversible — with a climate change denier?

In 2012, Trump — then only a businessman — tweeted: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” He called global warming a “hoax” in a separate post two years later.

On Wednesday, as expectations mounted about Trump’s announcement the next day, the president was asked if he still believed climate change was a hoax. But Trump refused to say anything and walked away.

At the daily White House briefing on Friday, the day after the pullout announcement, spokesman Sean Spicer and environment protection agency head Scott Pruitt refused to give a direct answer to questions about Trump’s personal view on climate change, despite being asked multiple times.

Pruitt spoke about how he and Trump were focussed in the last few days on a “singular issue — is Paris good or not for this country” but did not respond to the climate change question.

Spicer was equally evasive. When asked if he was able to check with the president — in an earlier briefing he had said he hadn’t had the chance to speak to Trump about his views on climate change — he said, “I have not had an opportunity to have that discussion”.

Asked again whether Americans didn’t deserve to know what Trump believes, Spicer cited Pruitt to say “the president is focused on is making sure that we have clean water, clean air, and making sure that we have the best deal for the American workers”.

Trump and the White House’s reluctance to come out, one way or the other, is also a shift, as has been noted by some observers. He is not calling climate change or global warming a hoax or dismissing the underlying principle.

In phone calls shortly after his pullout announcement, Trump sought to assure leaders of Germany, France, Britain and Canada that “America remains committed to … robust efforts to protect the environment”, according to a White House statement.

He went on talk about America’s “strong record in reducing emissions and leading the development of clean energy technology” and told them “the United States under the Trump administration, will be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth”.