When President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris accord on climate change last week, he attempted to justify the move with false information about the deal, dubious concerns about “other countries and other leaders [laughing] at us,” and a mischaracterization of the people of Pittsburgh. Trump barely mentioned the global warming that the Paris Agreement aims to ameliorate, suggesting that he continues to think that climate change is, as he once put it, a “hoax.”
After the announcement, reporters tried to get a clear answer to the question of whether Trump believes that climate change is real, but they didn’t have much luck: EPA head Scott Pruitt (who has questioned climate science himself) said that he and the president had never discussed the issue, as did Sean Spicer. When pressed about Trump’s beliefs, advisors Gary Cohn and Kellyanne Conway told journalists to “ask him.” Two unnamed officials sent to brief the press after the president’s Paris agreement speech said that they couldn’t speak to his “personal views.”
Finally, in an interview set to air on Sunday, U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley gave a more straightforward response: “President Trump believes the climate is changing and he believes pollutants are part of the equation,” she told Jake Tapper. Haley wouldn’t address Trump’s infamous claim that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” saying only that, “[He] knows that it’s changing and that the US has to be responsible for it and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Given Trump’s long history of climate denial and his susceptibility to misleading right-wing memes on the topic, it seems at least possible that Haley’s representation of her boss’s views might not be entirely accurate. Or maybe Trump does now believe in climate change – and has simply determined that appeasing his base and sticking it to the United States’ allies is more important than co-operating with the international effort to make humanity less completely doomed.