Trump says he ‘doesn’t believe’ his own administration’s report on climate change

The president has long called climate change 'a hoax'

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Monday 26 November 2018 21:44 GMT
Donald Trump says he ‘doesn’t believe’ his own administration’s report on climate change

After his own administration published a report on climate change compiled by 13 federal agencies, Donald Trump said: "I don't believe it".

Mr Trump, on his way to Mississippi, was incredulous about the National Climate Assessment report which was released late last week during the Thanksgiving holiday. He said he had "read some of it and it's fine".

The report highlighted the dire economic effects of not taking steps to combat climate change and contain global warming to 2 C.

The nearly 1,700-page document is required by Congress every four years and is one of the most comprehensive studies regarding the effect of climate change on US coastlines, infrastructure, public health, and the American economy.

The report detailed how natural disasters "have already become more frequent, intense, widespread or of long duration" because of climate change and global warming, phenomena the president has repeatedly called "a hoax" and often said is perpetrated by China.

Natural disasters have, according to the report, cost the US more than $400bn (£312bn) since 2015. Hurricane Michael earlier this year alone decimated Georgia's agricultural sector to the tune of $5bn.

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Jonathan Overpeck, Dean of the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, told The Independent in a statement: "The National Climate Assessment report represents the official scientific word on climate change from the US government and represents the state of science knowledge well. Climate change is caused by humans, mainly through the burning of fossil fuels, and is already having costly impacts on our nation".

William K Reilly, who led the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President George W Bush told the New York Times the administration immediate reaction to ignore the report was "a new frontier of disavowance of science, of disdain for facts".

The White House has said the report was "largely based on the extreme scenario" and dismissed it even as it was released. Not issuing the report would have been a violation of law.

As the New York Times reported after speaking with sources close to the matter: "The decision not to alter or suppress the report’s findings - despite its scientific conclusions so much at odds with the president’s policies - reflected a clear political calculus".

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The administration has downplayed the report without making it seem like they have altered any of the data, which is clearly not in support of Mr Trump's efforts to repeal legislation like the Clean Power Plan, which would have reduced the carbon emissions of US power plants by nearly a third, and another rule which sought to limit emissions by vehicle tailpipes.

The report comes just days after Mr Trump witnessed the effects of the deadly wildfires in California. During his presidency several devastating hurricanes have rocked Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Puerto Rico as well, costly the federal government billions in disaster relief aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) and other means.

In 2017, Mr Trump also began the withdrawal process for the US to leave the Paris Agreement on climate change, a deal signed in 2015 by nearly 200 countries in order to curb global carbon emissions and limit global warming.

The process will end the same week as the 2020 presidential election.

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