US President Donald Trump has accused climate change scientists of having a “political agenda” as he cast doubt on whether humans were responsible for the earth’s rising temperatures.
But Mr Trump also said he no longer believed climate change was a hoax.
The comments, made during an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, come less than a week after climate scientists issued a final call to halt rising temperatures.
The world’s leading scientists agree that climate change is human-induced.
Last week’s report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the leading international body evaluating climate change – warned the world was heading towards a temperature rise of 3C.
Scientists say that natural fluctuations in temperature are being exacerbated by human activity – which have caused approximately 1C of global warming above pre-industrial levels.
The report said keeping to the preferred target of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels will mean “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.
Climate change was just one issue touched on during the wide-ranging interview, during which Mr Trump also:
- Claimed “the day before” he took office the US was on the verge of “going to war with North Korea”
- Said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “probably” involved in assassinations
- Refused to say whether he would reinstate the child separation policy, but added “there have to be consequences” for entering the US illegally
- Said he believed he had treated Christine Blasey Ford with “respect” after mocking her testimony in front of thousands at a rally
What did Mr Trump say about climate change?
During Sunday’s interview, Mr Trump cast doubt on making any changes, saying the scientists “have a very big political agenda”.
“I don’t think it’s a hoax, I think there’s probably a difference,” he told journalist Lesley Stahl.
“But I don’t know that it’s manmade. I will say this. I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs. I don’t want to be put at a disadvantage.”
Mr Trump added that temperatures “could very well go back” – although he did not say how.
What do scientists say?
The report released last week by the IPCC says climate change can only be stopped if the world makes major, and costly, changes.
That means reducing global emissions of CO2 by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and reducing coal use to almost zero and using up to seven million sq km for land energy crops.
If the world fails to act, the researchers warn, there will be some significant and dangerous changes to our world, including rising sea levels, significant impacts on ocean temperatures and acidity, and the ability to grow crops such as rice, maize and wheat.
What has Mr Trump previously said?
Mr Trump had said that climate change was a hoax during his election campaign in 2016, but he has generally avoided taking a clear stance on the issue since taking office.
However, he announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement, which commits another 187 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels and “endeavour to limit” them even more, to 1.5C.
At the time, Mr Trump said he wanted to negotiate a new “fair” deal that would not disadvantage US businesses and workers would begin.
It sparked speculation that the former reality television star still believed climate change was invented.
However, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, later said Mr Trump “believes the climate is changing and he believes pollutants are part of the equation”.