WASHINGTON — President Trump cast doubt on the science of climate change even while saying he’d be open to keeping the US in the Paris climate accord, partly because of his warm relationship with French President Emmanuel Macron.
“The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records,” Trump said in excerpts of an interview with Piers Morgan on the UK television network ITV that was broadcast Sunday. Trump didn’t specify the data behind his statement about setting records.
The president said in June that he was pulling the US out of the Paris climate agreement, signed in 2015 by almost 200 countries after years of negotiations. He continues to call it a bad deal for the US. The accord was reached even after climate science had become a partisan issue in the US, with Republican voters becoming more skeptical over the years about the links between a warming planet and human activities.
“The Paris accord, for us, would have been a disaster,” Trump said in excerpts of the interview. “Would I go back in? Yeah, I’d go back in. I like, as you know, I like Emmanuel” Macron.
“I would love to, but it’s got to be a good deal for the United States,” Trump added. The comments were similar to ones he made Jan. 10, after a meeting with Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the White House.
“We can conceivably go back in,” Trump said at the time. Countries can’t formally submit paperwork to leave the Paris climate agreement until 2019, with their exits effective no earlier than Nov. 4, 2020 -- a day after the next US presidential election.
Trump also expressed skepticism in the ITV interview that the global climate is warming, as a majority of scientists have concluded.
“There is a cooling, and there’s a heating,” he said. “I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place.”
Trump’s comment was consistent with one he made on Twitter in late December as the eastern US shivered through a brief cold snap. “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!”
In 2014, less than a year before he entered the 2016 presidential race, president, Trump said on Twitter that the “POLAR ICE CAPS are at an all time high, the POLAR BEAR population has never been stronger. Where the hell is global warming.”
Data released this month from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show 2017 was the third hottest year on record. Seven of the 18 hottest years have been logged in the 21st century, and the planet hasn’t had a cooler-than-average year since 1976.
The cost of natural disasters hit records in the US in 2017, straining the federal budget. NOAA tallied 16 billion-dollar-plus storms, fires, and floods in 2017, including Hurricanes Maria and Harvey, which devastated Puerto Rico and Houston, respectively. The price-tag for damage from those weather and climate events was $306 billion.
A Yale University study in 2016 showed that 82 percent of Democrats believe “global warming is happening,” against 50 percent of Republicans. Democrats consistently had higher rates of worry about global warming and the harm it could do to people in the US, and were more supportive of funding research, regulating pollutants, and using renewable energy.