Science and TechClimate Change


Does Trump Believe In Climate Change? White House Won't Say

The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House press secretary didn't give the press a definitive answer.
Posted at 8:05 PM, Jun 02, 2017

A day after President Donald Trump said he'd withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, his administration still won't definitively answer one question:

"Yes or no: Does the president believe that climate change is real and a threat to the United States?" asked Mary Bruce of ABC News.

"All the discussions we've had for the last several weeks focused on one singular issue: Is Paris good or not for this country?" said Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, during a White House press briefing.

Reporters asked both Pruitt and White House press secretary Sean Spicer multiple times Friday to clarify Trump's views on climate change, since Trump had said before taking office that climate change was "a hoax."

"Does the president believe today that climate change is a hoax?" The Washington Post's Philip Rucker asked Pruitt.

NBC's Kristen Welker asked Pruitt, "You're the EPA administrator; shouldn't you be able to tell the American people whether or not the president still believes that climate change is a hoax?"

"What does the president actually believe on climate change: Does he still believe it's a hoax?" Time's Zeke Miller asked.

And each time, they didn't get the answer they were looking for.

"I did answer the question because I said the discussions the president and I have had over the last few weeks focused on one key issue: Is Paris good or bad for this country?" Pruitt responded.

"There's enough to deal with with respect to the Paris Agreement and making an informed decision about this important issue. That's what our focus has been over the last several weeks," Pruitt replied.

"I have not had an opportunity to have that discussion," Spicer said.

But the White House had to have known it was going to get that question. Reporters tried to ask Trump that earlier this week.

"Do you believe climate change is a hoax still?" a reporter asked Trump on Wednesday.

"Thank you, everybody," Trump said.

And Friday morning, his counselor Kellyanne Conway was also asked the question on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"Does the president still believe global warming is a hoax?" George Stephanopoulos asked.

"The president believes in a clean environment, clean air, clean water. He's received awards as a businessman in that regard. He made very clear yesterday what he doesn't believe, which is that the U.S. government should stay in an agreement that gives us too much of the financial burden," Conway said.

Stephanopoulos asked Conway the same question two more times. 

The final time she said, "You should ask him that."

Although he wouldn't speak for President Trump, Pruitt did share his own opinions on climate change.

"Global warming is occurring, that human activity contributes to it in some manner. Measuring with precision, from my perspective, the degree of human contribution is very challenging," Pruitt said. "... People have called me a climate skeptic or a climate denier. I don't even know what it means to deny the climate, but I would say there are climate exaggerators."

And Pruitt doesn't seem concerned European leaders said they don't think the agreement can be renegotiated.

Welker asked: "But with whom if they're not going to sit down at the table with them?"

"Well, that's up to them, right?" Pruitt asked. "... The United States has a seat at the table. After all, we're the United States. And we are leading with respect to CO2 production. We have made tremendous progress. If nations around the globe want to see to learn from us what we're doing to reduce our CO2 footprint, we're going to share that with them."