Trump’s UN Diplomat: White House Won’t Hinder Climate Study

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By Dean Scott

The Trump administration is unlikely to interfere in a broad climate study focusing on how rising sea level, increasing temperatures, and other factors are already affecting the U.S., the president’s United Nations ambassador said.

Asked if the administration would embrace the report, Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the UN, said, “I haven’t seen the report, but I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t.” Haley, appearing Aug. 8 on NBC’s “Today” show, appeared to push back against reports suggesting scientists are worried President Donald Trump will torpedo the draft report—known as the Fourth National Climate Assessment—given Trump’s June withdrawal from the Paris climate pact.

“We’re not saying that climate change is not real,” she said. “It is real. It’s how do you have that balance between making sure you’ve got jobs and businesses moving and then also making sure you protect your climate,” she said. “The answer’s in the middle.”

One draft portion of the report, known as the climate science special report, said even “stronger evidence” has emerged of “continuing, rapid, human-caused warming of the global atmosphere and ocean” since the last report in 2014. The report, compiled by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, is required under a 1990 law to be provided to Congress.

Overall, the latest draft report only reiterates findings from earlier assessments as well as those from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that confirm the planet is warming and that humans likely play a significant role in driving climate change, Roger Pielke Jr., a professor at the University of Colorado’s environmental studies department, told Bloomberg BNA.

“In a sense this isn’t a lot of new news but confirms what earlier climate assessment reports, as well as IPCC” found, Pielke said.

“The report is pretty solid,” he said.

Democrats Not Assuaged

Many Democrats, who have already complained that Trump has rolled back climate policies and targeted funding for climate-related research, said they have good reason to worry that the White House might interfere with the report.

“It wouldn’t be a surprise if they attempted to suppress it, unfortunately,” Rep. Mike Quigley, (D-Ill.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN’s New Day Aug. 8.

“Look, it’s a familiar pattern” for Trump, Quigley said, noting the president labeled climate change a “hoax” in the 2016 campaign even though scientists have amassed more than 12,000 peer-reviewed papers on the subject. “The Trump administration cannot be allowed to suppress pure science,” the Democrat said.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has a formal role in reviewing the U.S. climate assessment under the 1990 Global Change Research Act, but Trump has yet to nominate someone to head the office. Past OSTP directors, including John Holdren, who served two terms under President Barack Obama, have also typically served as the president’s top science adviser.

OSTP spokesman Ross Gillfillan said he could not comment on whether Trump is close to nominating someone to the position.

Final Version Due in 2018

But the spokesman told Bloomberg BNA the draft climate science report should still be viewed as an “interim report” that will be wrapped into a broader National Climate Assessment.

The complete assessment is expected to be made available for public review sometime this fall, or perhaps by end of year, he said; the final version is slated for release in 2018.

The White House refused to respond to questions about the draft assessment, with White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders stating that the draft has actually been released online months ago for public comment. Going forward, the White House “will withhold comment on any draft report before its scheduled release date,” according to Sanders’ statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dean Scott in Washington at dscott@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at rdaigle@bna.com

For More Information

The draft Fourth National Climate Assessment is available at http://src.bna.com/ruE.

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