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Activists projected "Don't Let a Climate Denier Take Over the EPA" directly onto the front of the EPA headquarters on Monday night. (Photo: 350.org)

Trump's "Open Mind" on Climate Denounced as Nothing but "Empty Rhetoric"

'Talk is cheap, and no one should believe Donald Trump means this until he acts upon it,' says head of Sierra Club

Deirdre Fulton

President-elect Donald Trump's claim to be keeping an "open mind" about the Paris climate change accord is nothing but "a bunch of empty rhetoric" when viewed alongside his policy proposals and personnel choices, environmental group 350.org charged on Tuesday. 

Of the international climate agreement, which Trump repeatedly vowed to withdraw from on the campaign trail, he told New York Times editors and reporters on Tuesday: "I'm looking at it very closely. I have an open mind to it."

Trump—who previously described man-made global warming as a "hoax"—also reportedly acknowledged "some connectivity" between human activity and climate change:

But in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, 350.org executive director May Boeve scoffed at the president-elect's alleged change of heart.

"Actions speak louder than words," Boeve declared. "As long as Trump has a climate change denier like Myron Ebell running his transition team, you know this is all a bunch of empty rhetoric," she added, referring to the climate change denier heading Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition.

"If Trump is changing his tune, maybe it's because he's realized that far more Americans support climate action than voted for him in this election," Boeve continued. "The public is clamoring for a renewable energy economy that will create millions of jobs while saving our planet. Instead of delivering, Trump is going on about fantasies like 'clean coal' and flip-flopping around on whether there's 'some connectivity' between humans and climate change. The President-elect needs to get up to speed, and fast."

Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune added: "Talk is cheap, and no one should believe Donald Trump means this until he acts upon it. We're waiting for action, and Trump is kidding nobody on climate as he simultaneously stacks his transition team and cabinet with climate science deniers and the dirtiest hacks the fossil fuel industry can offer. Prove it, President-elect. The world is watching."

Indeed, environmentalists have reason to be skeptical. Aside from Ebell's prominent role on Trump's team—which 350.org, Sierra Club, and Climate Truth protested on Monday evening—the president-elect promised in a video address on Monday to "cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy—including shale energy and clean coal—creating many millions of high-paying jobs."

The Huffington Post described Trump's message as "a not-so-subtle dig at Obama's Clean Power Plan to reduce power plant emissions, which Trump has vowed to dismantle."


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