President Donald Trump has said he doesn’t believe that climate change is a hoax – but added Sunday night that “it’ll change back again.”
In the wake of a report from the global scientific authority on climate change warning that governments around the world must take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disastrous levels of global warming, Trump was asked for his views on climate change during an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
Trump replied: “I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax, I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s man-made.”
Rolling back climate regulations
Trump’s belief that climate change may not be man-made should come as no surprise – it’s reflected in many of the policies that have defined his first term. While it might be seen as progress that he’s acknowledged it’s not a hoax, his belief that climate change will fix itself is clear from the way his administration has rolled back many Obama-era climate change directives.
Here are some of the controversial climate actions taken by the Trump administration:
- In 2017, Trump announced he would withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris agreement – the landmark accord through which countries have pledged to reduce carbon emissions – leaving the US as the only country in the world not signed on to the deal.
- In August, the administration announced plans to freeze Obama-era greenhouse gas emissions standards for automobiles. It also proposed withdrawing California’s Clean Air Act pre-emption waiver, which lets the state set its own emission standards. California and about a dozen states that follow its rules account for about a third of all the passenger vehicles sold in the United States.
- In September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal that would relax requirements from the Obama-era on how energy companies monitor and repair methane leaks.
- The EPA wants to roll back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which had a goal of cutting the country’s carbon emissions by a third by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. The EPA’s proposed Affordable Clean Energy Rule would devolve regulation of coal-fired power plants back to the state level, which is expected to boost the coal industry and increase US carbon emissions.
- Trump signed an executive order in 2017 lifting a moratorium on new coal leasing on federal lands, which was put in place by the Obama administration. Environmentalists had long criticized such leasing, saying coal companies paid so little for their leases that taxpayers were effectively subsidizing coal production.
- In 2017, Trump signed an executive order curbing the government’s enforcement of climate regulations, saying they harmed American businesses. The order rescinded the 2013 Climate Action Plan, which focused on cutting carbon emissions, preparing infrastructure for the impact of climate change and making the US a leader in combating climate change. He also rescinded an Obama executive order that created a Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, charged with preparing the US for the impact of climate change.
- A provision in the 2017 tax overhaul bill legislation opened up Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, and at the start of 2018, the Interior Department announced it was considering plans to permit drilling in nearly all US waters.
Last week’s UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), report said that based on current levels of greenhouse gas emissions, the planet will reach 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.
NASA says that “97 percent or more” of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.