Trump claims to be an ‘environmentalist’ despite skipping G-7 session on climate change
President Donald Trump sought to defend his environmental record on Monday after skipping a meeting on climate change with world leaders at the G-7.
Asked in a news conference at the close of the annual gathering whether he still harbors skepticism toward science that shows global temperatures rising at a dangerous pace, Trump insisted that he was an “environmentalist,” even as he talked up his administration’s support for fossil fuels.
“I feel that the United States has tremendous wealth. The wealth is under its feet. I’ve made that wealth come alive,” he said, pointing to the United States’ rise to a global leader in oil exports and his efforts to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil drilling, an initiative that has hit a number of roadblocks.
But he again dismissed sources of renewable energy like wind power, referring to power generating wind turbines as “windmills” and telling reporters he didn’t want to waste America’s “tremendous” energy wealth on “dreams.”
Trump caused a commotion Monday when he skipped a session at the G-7 devoted to climate change, biodiversity and oceans, unlike every other leader from the group of leading industrialized nations. Following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump told reporters of the session that “we’re having it in a little while,” according to a pool report, and did not acknowledge when a reporter informed him that the session had in fact already happened.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham later said that Trump missed the session due to “scheduled meetings and bilaterals” with the leaders of Germany and India, adding that “a senior member of the administration attended in his stead.” Both Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the session, however.
Trump later told journalists Monday that “I want the cleanest water on Earth, I want the cleanest air on Earth and that’s what we’re doing — and I’m an environmentalist.” But he did not answer a reporter’s question about what he thought the world should be doing to address the growing climate crisis.
The president has repeatedly minimized the threat of climate change, pledging during his candidacy — and making efforts during his presidency — to revive the coal industry, expand offshore drilling, and open up public lands for onshore drilling as well as approving controversial pipeline projects and pushing a massive deregulation campaign.
During his first year in office, Trump controversially withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, making the U.S. one of the only industrialized countries not in the pact to reduce carbon emissions and make drastic changes to mitigate the climate crisis. He has also derided the Green New Deal that has become a de facto benchmark of environmental policy on the left, calling it socialist and saying he can’t wait to run against the idea in next year’s election.
“I want to be very careful,” Trump said of his environmental policy. “At the same time it’s very important to me, we have to maintain this incredible place that we’ve all built. We’ve become a much richer country and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. Because that great wealth allows us to take care of people. We can take care of people that we couldn’t have taken care of in the past because of the great wealth. We can’t let that wealth be taken away. Clean air, clean water.”
Trump subsequently wrapped up the news conference, not allowing any follow-up questions on the topic.
Donald Trump, the most anti-environmental president in U.S. history… period, labeled himself “an environmentalist.”
From withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, installing a coal lobbyist to the EPA who is rolling back clean air and water regulations, to rolling back Obama MPG standards for automobiles, allowing companies to pollute our streams, denying the fact that humans are warming the planet at rates never before seen, etc…