Despite the fact Donald Trump once famously called climate change a “hoax” which was “invented by the Chinese” and pledged to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement, in recent weeks it seemed that the President-elect might be softening his stance somewhat. However, with Scott Pruitt, a leading climate change denier and fossil fuel industry ally, recently selected to head the Environmental Protection Agency, most remnants of wilful optimism have been wiped out.
The only silver lining for environmentalists may be the fact Mr Trump had a meeting with Leonardo DiCaprio after news broke Pruitt was expected to be announced as his choice. In their meeting, the billionaire property tycoon and the Hollywood actor, who is a fervent campaigner for fighting climate change, discussed how jobs centred on preserving the environment can boost the economy.
Terry Tamminen, the CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, said they had a 90-minute meeting at Trump Tower in New York. In a statement to the Associated Press, Tamminen said the pair gave a presentation to Mr Trump, his daughter Ivanka, and other members of Trump’s team on how concentrating on renewable, clean energy could generate millions of jobs.
“Today, we presented the President-elect and his advisors with a framework - which LDF developed in consultation with leading voices in the fields of economics and environmentalism - that details how to unleash a major economic revival across the United States that is centered on investments in sustainable infrastructure,” Tamminen said.
“Our conversation focused on how to create millions of secure, American jobs in the construction and operation of commercial and residential clean, renewable energy generation.”
After their discussion on “green jobs”, the Oscar-award-winning actor gave the President-elect a copy of his documentary Before the Flood and Mr Trump is reported to have promised to watch it.
DiCaprio co-produced and featured in the 90-minute documentary on climate change directed by Martin Scorsese which stars Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Ban Ki-Moon, and Pope Francis.
A day before the election, DiCaprio took a covert dig at Mr Trump at the Hollywood Film Awards. He urged the electorate to vote for a candidate who believes in climate change. “Let's all use our power as citizens to do the right thing,” DiCaprio told the audience. “Please vote this Tuesday 8 November and vote for people who believe in the science of climate change.”
The appointment of Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection agency has raised alarm bells among environmental groups. He is a climate change denier and said the science behind it was “subject to considerable debate”. On top of this, he has also called the EPA’s rule “unlawful and overreaching” and pushed back against Barack Obama’s agenda on climate change.
Mr Trump's own track record on climate change is far from progressive. He has previously pledged to withdraw the US from the Paris climate deal, resuscitate the coal industry and expand oil and gas drilling. Despite the fact he previously called climate change a “hoax”, he later insisted the comment was intended as a joke.
However, at a recent meeting at the New York Times, Mr Trump appeared to backtrack on his stance. He said that there was “some connectivity” between humans and climate change. He also appeared to dilute his position on the Paris climate accord. “I’m looking at it very closely,” he said, adding that he has “an open mind to it”.
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