Trump keeping ‘open mind’ on Paris deal

Source: Hannah Hess, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump seemed to soften his stance on the Paris climate agreement today, saying he has “an open mind” after previously pledging to withdraw from the accord.

Trump met with New York Times reporters and editors in the newspaper’s headquarters today for an on-the-record lunch. Columnist Thomas Friedman asked Trump whether he would withdraw from the accord.

“I’m looking at it very closely. I have an open mind to it,” Trump answered, according to reporters present at the meeting.

Trump also seemed to acknowledge that human activity is linked to climate change. “I think there is some connectivity. Some, something. It depends on how much,” Trump said today.

The president-elect’s comments put him at odds with many Republicans, particularly people Trump has tapped to shepherd his transition.

Trump also said he was thinking about how much climate change could cost companies and its effect on American competitiveness. Trump said during the Timesmeeting that Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates had called him.

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune challenged Trump to prove he means what he said during the meeting. “Talk is cheap, and no one should believe Donald Trump means this until he acts upon it,” Brune said.

“We’re waiting for action,” he said, “and Trump is kidding nobody on climate as he simultaneously stacks his transition team and Cabinet with climate science deniers and the dirtiest hacks the fossil fuel industry can offer.”

Trump appointed climate change skeptic Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute to lead his U.S. EPA transition team.

His latest pick for the State Department transition, Heritage Foundation scholar Steven Groves, has written about how Trump should go about withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. Executive Director May Boeve said that as long as Ebell stays in place, “this is all a bunch of empty rhetoric” and suggested Trump changed his tune on climate action only because he knows it has popular support.

“The public is clamoring for a renewable energy economy that will create millions of jobs while saving our planet,” Boeve said. “Instead of delivering, Trump is going on about fantasies like ‘clean coal’ and flip-flopping around on whether there’s ‘some connectivity’ between humans and climate change.”

Boeve added: “The president-elect needs to get up to speed, and fast.”

During the presidential campaign, Trump told the editorial boards of The Washington Post and the Miami Herald that he was “not a big believer in man-made climate change” (Greenwire, Aug. 12).