For a speech about whether the US should remain a party to the Paris climate accord, Donald Trump’s Rose Garden address on Thursday didn’t have a whole lot of discussion about, you know, the climate.
There was plenty of talk about jobs and the US economy. He offered more than a few expressions of concern over whether other nations were being given an unfair advantage over the US. And then there was that lengthy opening plug for his presidential accomplishments that had nothing to do with the environment whatsoever.
At one point the president made a somewhat oblique reference to current climate science, asserting that even if all nations hit their self-set, non-mandatory greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Paris agreement, it would only result in a 0.2% reduction in average global temperatures by the year 2100. (The researchers who conducted the study said the number he cited was outdated and misrepresented.)
Mr Trump’s relative silence on the matter has left reporters wondering whether the president still stands by earlier comments – and tweets – expressing serious scepticism about the whether climate change is real.
He’s occasionally backed away from such sweeping denunciations. During the first presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, he denied having ever blamed the Chinese. In a New York Times interview shortly after his election victory, he said he thinks there’s “some connectivity” between human activity and climate change.
After Mr Trump announced his Paris agreement withdrawal, reporters posed the almost-too-obvious question once again to White House aides tasked with selling the move to the public. Does the president believe human activity contributes to climate change?