Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said in a speech Wednesday night that Republicans won't act on the climate crisis because the party doesn't want to raise taxes or ask people to change their "lifestyle."
"We take the position in my party that asking people to change their lifestyle dramatically, including by paying more taxes, is simply not something we are interested in doing," Mulvaney said in response to a question on why the U.S. government is not doing more to combat the climate emergency.
The audience in attendance at the speech in the United Kingdom laughed at Mulvaney's response, according to an audio recording obtained by the Washington Post.
Nathan Richardson, a law professor at the University of South Carolina and a fellow at the non-profit research organization Resources for the Future, tweeted that Mulvaney and the GOP's position on climate "is increasingly a political loser."
"And it is naive and shortsighted: Inaction is a choice that will force 'lifestyle changes,'" Richardson added. "The water will come."
Another Twitter user put it more bluntly: "Drowning is also a lifestyle change."
Mulvaney, who in 2017 called federal spending on climate research "a waste of your money," questioned whether human activity is driving global temperature rises—despite the near-unanimous consensus among climate scientists.
The debate over climate in the U.S., said Mulvaney, is "less so as to whether or not it's happening, more so as to its causes."
The Hill reported Thursday that President Donald Trump's budget proposal for fiscal year 2021 calls for slashing "funding for the National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers, eliminating all $38 million for research to help wildlife and humans 'adapt to a changing climate.'"
Joel Clement, senior fellow at the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Hill that "the presidential budget is all about sending signals."
"The signal they're trying to send is: We do not value climate science," said Clement.