Donald Trump claimed to be an environmentalist and said “right now we have the cleanest air and water on the planet” during a press conference at the G7 summit in Biarrit, France.
There’s a lot to unpack in the US president’s statements, notwithstanding that he chose not to attend a meeting on climate change with world leaders.
Trump was asked about his past scepticism towards climate change and towards science that shows global temperatures are rising at a dangerous pace, and he responded by calling himself an “environmentalist.”
Asked what his climate change message is at the G7 summit, Trump said:
I want clean air and clean water. And we’re right now having the cleanest air and cleanest water on the planet. But that’s what I want. Absolutely clean air and clean water.
He doesn’t specify where he believes the “cleanest air and cleanest” water is located – America? - and his comments don’t quite make sense, nor are they accurate.
An increasing number of Americans, 141.1 million – live in counties that have unhealthy levels of particle pollution.
In 2018 he tweeted about America having clean air - but it was data from 2016, in Barack Obama's final year of presidency.
In 2017 Trump pledged to “promote clean air and water” during his State of Union address, but his administration has rolled back 83 environmental rules since January 2017, pollution protections, emission standards and drilling regulations.
During the same summit, he talked about America’s “tremendous” fossil fuel wealth.
“I feel that the United States has tremendous wealth. The wealth is under its feet. I’ve made that wealth come alive,” he said.
It’s difficult to reconcile Trump’s claim of being an “environmentalist” with his scepticism towards scientific explanations of climate change.
Trump said he wouldn’t sacrifice the “wealth” of the US in order to make way for “dreams” and “windmills” when he was asked about climate change during G7.
I’m not going to lose that wealth. I’m not going to lose it on dreams, on windmills, which, frankly, aren’t working too well.
According to the New York Times, Trump’s team were privately and publicly critical of the French president, and complained that the focus of the summit was more on “niche issues” such as climate change, income and gender inequality and African development, rather than global economic challenges.
In April the US president wrongly suggested that wind turbines cause cancer, and a month later in May, he attacked renewable energy again by repeating the misnomer that wind power doesn’t work when it’s not windy.
The US Department of Energy says that it’s a common misconception.
Earlier this year the Trump administration announced that it will create a panel to deny climate change facts that have a scientific consensus, and removed one quarter of all climate change references from the government website.
Trump’s presidency is filled with anti-environmentalist actions, like withdrawing America from the Paris Climate Accord, pushing offshore drilling leasing, and has installed a number of climate change deniers in positions of power; William Happer of the White House’s National Security Council and cabinet members David Bernhardt, who previously lobbied on behalf of fossil fuel companies and Andrew Wheeler, the current chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, who worked for fossil fuel interests before taking on that role.