Donald Trump said he does not deny the concept of climate change, but believes it could “go back.”
The topic came up in a wide-ranging 60 Minutes that aired on Sunday. Trump told Lesley Stahl that he does not deny the idea of climate change — a major reversal from past statements from Trump — but believes that scientists who push the idea have a political agenda and that he is not convinced that the changes will be permanent. In a full transcript of the portion of the interview tweeted by Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale, Trump appeared to waver on his past denials that climate change exists.
“I’m not denying climate change,” Trump said. “But it could very well go back. You know, we’re talking about millions of years. They say we had hurricanes that were far worse than what we just had with Michael.”
Stahl pressed Trump during the interview, saying that most scientists believe climate change is the worst it has ever been. Trump expressed doubt at their sincerity.
“You’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda,” he said.
Scientists have said that the strength of recent hurricanes — including both Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence this year — is related to climate change that has warmed ocean waters and allowed storms to gather more strength before reaching land. They warn that if the trend continues, the United States will continue to see stronger storms and a range of other climate-related detriments.
Donald Trump’s claim that he does not deny climate change goes against a number of past statements in which he characterized the idea as fake and a hoax. Last year, Vox compiled a list of more than 100 times that Donald Trump expressed skepticism at the idea of climate change, including his now-infamous tweet calling it a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
Donald Trump has also been known to cite far-right media outlets casting doubt on climate change.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 25, 2013
Donald Trump generated controversy in the early days of his presidency by following through on a pledge to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, which called on member nations to voluntarily reduce carbon emissions. The move was met with widespread backlash, and many local leaders pledged to remain committed to the obligations in the agreement even if Trump were to pull the United States out. Trump had claimed that the agreement was “unfair” to the United States and would result in $3 trillion in lost GDT.