President Trump, who has famously called climate change a “hoax,” does believe the climate is changing and that humans have a role in it, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“President Trump believes the climate is changing, and he believes pollutants are part of the equation,” Haley said in an interview on “State of the Union,” which will be fully aired Sunday.
“The rest of the world wanted to tell us how to do it, and we’re saying we will do it, but we will do it under our terms,” she said. Haley said Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord “because it wasn’t possible to meet the conditions” of the pact agreed to under President Obama.
Her remarks come amid global criticism of Trump for withdrawing the United States from the climate pact, which was signed by 195 countries that agreed to curb carbon emissions to mitigate global warming. Coal-fired power plants in the United States, as elsewhere, would be monitored for pollutants causing damage to the environment under the pact.
Trump has made contradictory statements about what exactly he believes amid mounting pressure from other world leaders, the scientific community and even Pope Francis, who has urged urgent action to change human activity causing harm to the environment. The president has said flat out that climate change is “nonexistent” — but at others times has hedged his position and said there could be some connection to human activity.
Haley, the former South Carolina governor whom Trump appointed to the United Nations post, was asked to elaborate on the president’s thinking. She told Tapper, “He knows that it’s changing and that the U.S. has to be responsible for it, and that’s what we’re going to do.” She said the United States pulled out of the Paris pact because the rules hurt U.S. businesses.
“Just because the U.S. got out of a club doesn’t mean we aren’t going to care about the environment,” she said.
During Friday’s daily press briefing, both White House press secretary Sean Spicer and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said that they had not had a discussion with the president on his views on climate change and could not answer questions about what the president thought.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Trump said during his announcement that he was pulling out of the pact. And though some Trump supporters carried “Pittsburgh not Paris” signs outside the White House on Saturday, the mayor of Pittsburgh denounced the president’s move to abandon the accord.
In response to Trump’s withdrawal from the pact, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged to pay up to $15 million to support the U.N. agency that helps countries implement the agreement.
“Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris agreement by leading from the bottom up — and there isn’t anything Washington can do to stop us,” said Bloomberg, who appeared in Paris Friday with French President Emmanuel Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.