When President-Elect Donald Trump told New York Times reporters and editors he would keep an “open mind” on global warming, the media had a field day and ran headlines the firebrand real estate mogul had moderated his positions.
But go and read the full transcript of Trump’s NYT interview, and you get a different picture than what was reported by many news outlets.
“On climate change, Mr. Trump refused to repeat his promise to abandon the international climate accord reached last year in Paris, saying, ‘I’m looking at it very closely,’” NYT reported in a summary of its interview with the president-elect.
“Despite the recent appointment to his transition team of a fierce critic of the Paris accords, Mr. Trump said that ‘I have an open mind to it’ and that clean air and ‘crystal clear water’ were vitally important,” the Times wrote.
Sounds like he’s moderated a bit from his campaign promise to “cancel” the Paris climate treaty that was hashed out by United Nations delegates at its annual summit last year.
Trump did say he’d keep an “open mind” on the Paris treaty, but unreported parts of the interview seem to be most telling about his actual thoughts on global warming.
Trump not only highlighted the fact there are many prominent skeptics of catastrophic man-made global warming, he also took NYT publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. to task for trying to link global warming to storms.
Trump even mentioned, though not by name, the “Climategate” email scandal where top scientists were allegedly exposed for having fiddled around with climate data to make warming look worse than it actually was.
While Trump did say he believes there’s “some connectivity” between humans and global warming, he expressed concern about how much climate regulations would hamper U.S. competitiveness.
It should also be noted Trump is laughing when he answers some of the Times’ questions on global warming.
THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, opinion columnist: Mr. President-elect, can I ask a question? One of the issues that you actually were very careful not to speak about during the campaign, and haven’t spoken about yet, is one very near and dear to my heart, the whole issue of climate change, the Paris agreement, how you’ll approach it. You own some of the most beautiful links golf courses in the world …
[laughter, cross talk]
TRUMP: [laughing] I read your article. Some will be even better because actually like Doral is a little bit off … so it’ll be perfect. [inaudible] He doesn’t say that. He just says that the ones that are near the water will be gone, but Doral will be in great shape. [laughter]
FRIEDMAN: But it’s really important to me, and I think to a lot of our readers, to know where you’re going to go with this. I don’t think anyone objects to, you know, doing all forms of energy. But are you going to take America out of the world’s lead of confronting climate change?
TRUMP: I’m looking at it very closely, Tom. I’ll tell you what. I have an open mind to it. We’re going to look very carefully. It’s one issue that’s interesting because there are few things where there’s more division than climate change. You don’t tend to hear this, but there are people on the other side of that issue who are, think, don’t even …
SULZBERGER: We do hear it.
FRIEDMAN: I was on ‘Squawk Box’ with Joe Kernen this morning, so I got an earful of it.
TRUMP: Joe is one of them. But a lot of smart people disagree with you. I have a very open mind. And I’m going to study a lot of the things that happened on it and we’re going to look at it very carefully. But I have an open mind.
SULZBERGER: Well, since we’re living on an island, sir, I want to thank you for having an open mind. We saw what these storms are now doing, right? We’ve seen it personally. Straight up.
FRIEDMAN: But you have an open mind on this?
TRUMP: I do have an open mind. And we’ve had storms always, Arthur.
SULZBERGER: Not like this.
TRUMP: You know the hottest day ever was in 1890something, 98. You know, you can make lots of cases for different views. I have a totally open mind.
My uncle was for 35 years a professor at M.I.T. He was a great engineer, scientist. He was a great guy. And he was … a long time ago, he had feelings — this was a long time ago — he had feelings on this subject. It’s a very complex subject. I’m not sure anybody is ever going to really know. I know we have, they say they have science on one side but then they also have those horrible emails that were sent between the scientists. Where was that, in Geneva or wherever five years ago? Terrible. Where they got caught, you know, so you see that and you say, what’s this all about. I absolutely have an open mind. I will tell you this: Clean air is vitally important. Clean water, crystal clean water is vitally important. Safety is vitally important.
And you know, you mentioned a lot of the courses. I have some great, great, very successful golf courses. I’ve received so many environmental awards for the way I’ve done, you know. I’ve done a tremendous amount of work where I’ve received tremendous numbers. Sometimes I’ll say I’m actually an environmentalist and people will smile in some cases and other people that know me understand that’s true. Open mind.
JAMES BENNET, editorial page editor: When you say an open mind, you mean you’re just not sure whether human activity causes climate change? Do you think human activity is or isn’t connected?
TRUMP: I think right now … well, I think there is some connectivity. There is some, something. It depends on how much. It also depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies. You have to understand, our companies are noncompetitive right now.
They’re really largely noncompetitive. About four weeks ago, I started adding a certain little sentence into a lot of my speeches, that we’ve lost 70,000 factories since W. Bush. 70,000. When I first looked at the number, I said: ‘That must be a typo. It can’t be 70, you can’t have 70,000, you wouldn’t think you have 70,000 factories here.’ And it wasn’t a typo, it’s right. We’ve lost 70,000 factories.
We’re not a competitive nation with other nations anymore. We have to make ourselves competitive. We’re not competitive for a lot of reasons.
That’s becoming more and more of the reason. Because a lot of these countries that we do business with, they make deals with our president, or whoever, and then they don’t adhere to the deals, you know that. And it’s much less expensive for their companies to produce products. So I’m going to be studying that very hard, and I think I have a very big voice in it. And I think my voice is listened to, especially by people that don’t believe in it. And we’ll let you know.
FRIEDMAN: I’d hate to see Royal Aberdeen underwater.
TRUMP: The North Sea, that could be, that’s a good one, right?