Trump claims “nobody really knows” what climate scientists definitely know

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace sat down for an interview with President-elect Donald Trump that aired yesterday, touching on a number of recent topics surrounding the Trump Administration’s transition. One of those topics was climate change and Trump’s choice for EPA Administrator, who appears poised to roll back pollution regulations on fossil fuels.

Wallace noted that Trump told the New York Times staff during a recent sit-down that he was “open-minded” about climate change (despite a history of statements to the contrary) and asked, “So, where are you on the environment?”

Trump answered, “I’m still open-minded. Nobody really knows. I’ve—look, I’m somebody that gets it. And nobody really knows. It’s not something that’s so hard and fast.” Wallace didn’t challenge this claim, but assuming that Trump is referring to climate change here (rather than environmental protection more broadly) the reality is, in fact, hard and fast.

The last IPCC report, prepared by hundreds of climate scientists, summarized the state of the science well.

It concluded, first, that “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.” And the cause? The report assigned at least 95 percent statistical confidence to the fact that “human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

President-elect Trump went on to claim that “other countries are eating our lunch” because manufacturing plants can be built more quickly without permits.

Trump promised decisions on the landmark international Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the Keystone XL pipeline project (which the Obama Administration rejected) “pretty quickly” when his term begins. “Now, Paris, I’m studying,” Trump said. “I do say this—I don’t want that agreement to put us at a competitive disadvantage with other countries. As you know, there are different times and different time limits on that agreement. I don’t want that to give China or other countries signing agreements and advantage over us.”

In Paris, China pledged to halt the rapid growth of its emissions by 2030, even as its economic growth continues. The International Energy Agency’s 2016 energy outlook concluded, for the first time, that China’s coal usage may actually have peaked a few years ago as its economy shifts away from dirty industry and toward renewable energy and natural gas. Next year, China will start up a nationwide cap-and-trade system regulating emissions from those dirty industries.

In addition to the Keystone XL pipeline, Trump also brought up the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will have to look for a new route after the Army Corps of Engineers blocked a heavily protested path near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. “Let me not answer the Dakota because perhaps that’ll be solved by the time I get there, so I don’t have to create enemies on one side or the other. But I will tell you when I get to office, if it’s not solved, I’ll have it solved very quickly,” Trump said.

When Wallace asked what that meant, Trump replied, “I’m not saying anything. I just say something will happen, and it’ll be quick. I think it’s very unfair. So, it’ll start one way or the other.”

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