By Rachel Koning Beals
At the first presidential debate Moderator Chris Wallace pushed Trump about pulling the U.S. out of the voluntary international Paris climate accord and his administration’s rollback of environmental protections.
“I want crystal clean water and air, we now have the lowest carbon … if you look at our numbers now we are doing phenomenally,” Trump replied. He called the Paris agreement a “disaster,” which in the past he has blamed on noncompliance from big polluters in the developing world.
Trump repeated that historic wildfires on the U.S. West Coast in recent years, which scientists have pinned in part on climate extremes, are due to poor forest management, but just more than half of California forests are federally managed land.
“For the first time, President Trump acknowledged that human activity has, at least in part, caused climate change,” the American Conservation Coalition, a conservative environment group, said in a statement after the first debate.
The left-leaning policy bloc Climate Power 2020 is encouraged by the topic’s inclusion in the final debate, but wants assurances it will be treated with the seriousness that other topics are given.
“Too often, climate questions hinge on whether a candidate believes in the science, allowing climate deniers to cast false doubt on the fact the climate crisis is here and already harming families across the country. Or questions are framed as an outdated choice between economic growth or clean energy…,” said the group’s executive director Lori Lodes.
“As climate fires rage across the West, the Gulf Coast suffers from a record-shattering hurricane season and droughts and extreme heat put the health of communities at risk, people need to know what the candidates will do about it,” she said.