In First Since Trump Speech, Haley Says President Believes Climate Is Changing

Albin Lohr-Jones/SIPPL Sipa USA

After repeated dodges and non-answers from various members of the Trump administration, the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said Saturday that the President believes “the climate is changing and he believes pollutants are part of the equation.”

At least five members of Trump’s administration — EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn and White House press secretary Sean Spicer — repeatedly declined to say in recent days whether the President believes the science supporting climate change.

“I just want to be clear on this,” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Haley in an interview set to air Sunday, but which CNN released a portion of Saturday. “You’re not willing to acknowledge that calling climate change a Chinese hoax is just a big box of crazy?”

“President Trump believes the climate is changing and he believes pollutants are part of that equation,” Haley responded. “So that is the fact. That is where we are. That’s where it stands. He knows that it’s changing, he knows that the U.S. has to be responsible with it. And that’s what we’re going to do.”

She defended the President’s decision to withdraw the United States from the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, the voluntary accord by which nearly every nation on Earth set voluntary emissions goals, by adding: “Just because we got out of a club doesn’t mean that we don’t care about the environment.”

The Trump administration has been aggressive in rolling back environmental protections, especially those instituted during the Obama administration.

On the campaign trail and as a private citizen, Trump repeatedly called climate change a hoax and said that other countries had invented the science supporting climate change in order to disadvantage the United States economically.

In his speech Thursday announcing he would withdraw the United States from the Paris accord,  Trump struck a similar chord.

“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” he said. “The rest of the world applauded when we signed the Paris Agreement. They went wild. They were so happy, for the simple reason that it put our country, the United States of America, which we all love, at a very, very big economic disadvantage.”

As RollCall later pointed out, the President never used the term “climate change” itself in the speech.