President-elect Donald Trump will not say in certain terms how he will address U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement on climate change, but more and more it seems the writing is on the wall. “Paris, I’m studying. I do say this — I don’t want that agreement to put us at a competitive disadvantage with other countries. As you know, there are different times and different time limits on that agreement. I don’t want that to give China or other countries signing agreements an advantage over us,” Trump said Sunday during an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
The nation got an idea of exactly how Trump is studying the Paris Agreement late last week when a survey his transition team sent to the Department of Energy was leaked to the press. In the survey, the team requested that the department provide “a list of Department employees or contractors who attended any of the Conference of the Parties (under the UNFCCC) in the last five years?”
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the treaty under which the Paris Agreement was adopted in December 2015.
The survey also requests information regarding Mission Innovation, a pledge made last year during COP21 in Paris. Under Mission Innovation, the United States and 21 other countries as well as the European Union pledged to double their clean energy research and development funding. The survey asks who “owns” the Mission Innovation efforts.
Trump’s team also asked “Which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.”
The social cost of carbon, a measure used to determine climate costs and benefits to government actions, is also targeted in the survey: The transition team asked for “a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any lnteragency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings,” as well as “a list of when those meetings were and any materials distributed at those meetings, emails associated with those meetings, or materials created by Department employees or contractors in anticipation of or as a result of those meetings.”
Trump’s impending presidency has environmentalists scared, as he has in the past called climate change a hoax. Since being elected, however, Trump has wavered a bit, telling The New York Times he was keeping an open mind. In Sunday’s interview, however, while Trump said he is “still open minded” he also suggested that “nobody knows” about climate change. “I’m still open-minded. Nobody really knows,” he said. “Look, I’m somebody that gets it. And nobody really knows. It’s not something that’s so hard and fast.”
There is scientific consensus on the existence of climate change and its causes. “Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities,” NASA has pointed out.