White House won’t say if Trump still thinks global warming is a hoax

“The president believes in a clean environment, clean air, clean water.”

Kellyanne Conway speaking to Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos on June 2, 2017. CREDIT: Screengrab
Kellyanne Conway speaking to Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos on June 2, 2017. CREDIT: Screengrab

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, refused to say three times whether President Trump still believes global warming is a hoax. Her statement came one day after the United States withdrew from the Paris climate agreement.

“The president believes in a clean environment, clean air, clean water,” Conway said Friday in an interview on Good Morning America in response to a question about whether the president “still believes global warming to be a hoax.”

“He’s received business awards in that regard,” Conway continued. “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, too much risk to these industries, where the coal miners, people who work in the cement and paper, people he’s looked in the eye in place after place and city after city — .”

When GMA host George Stephanopoulos interjected and asked a second time whether the president believes global warming to be a hoax, Conway reiterated, “He believes in clean air, clean water, a clean environment. He believes we have to negotiate better deals for this country and that there’s a balance between environmental protection and economic growth.”

Asked a third time, Conway told the GMA host, “You should ask him that.”

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence strongly defended Trump on Fox News, claiming the president pulled the United States out of the agreement because it put a burden on the economy. He expressed surprise at the fact that working to address climate change has emerged as a galvanizing issue for people throughout the world.

“For some reason or another, this issue of climate change has emerged as a paramount issue for the left — in this country and around the world,” Pence said Friday. “And through Kyoto, through President Obama’s cap-and-trade agenda, and then in the last year of his administration, to have America saddled in an international agreement in the Paris Accord, put a real burden on our economy and on our people. It’s a bad deal for America and as the president said so memorably yesterday, he was elected to represent Pittsburgh and not Paris.”

“It is so refreshing to have a president who just stands without apology for the American people, the American economy, and for America’s interests first,” Pence added.

Over the years, Trump repeatedly characterized climate change as a hoax, “canard,” “mythical,” “manufactured,” and “nonexistent.” He also said in 2012, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

There is abundant evidence that climate change is real. Most of the observed changes in the climate system since the 1950s have been unprecedented, with each of the last three decades getting successively warmer than any preceding decades since the 1850s, according to a 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. Between 2002 and 2006, both Greenland and Antarctica lost dozens of cubic miles of ice per year. And oceans warming and acidification have led to oxygen levels falling, which in turn kills or displaces populations of sea-dwelling creatures like fish and crabs, researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology found.

There is less evidence, however, pointing to the business awards the president can use to prove his chops on “clean environment, clean air, clean water.” As far back as 2011, Trump claimed to have received environmental accolades. Media outlets and environmental groups have failed to find evidence of those awards.

“I’ve actually been called an environmentalist, if you can believe that,” Trump said in 2016.

Update: In a press conference on Friday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt repeatedly refused to answer whether Trump believes climate change is real.