Trump shifts tone on climate change, environmentalists scoff

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NEW YORK — Republican president-elect Donald Trump, who called climate change a hoax during his campaign and vowed to pull out of the Paris accord, now says global warming might be real after all.

Mr Trump told the New York Times on Tuesday (Nov 22) that perhaps humans are to blame for the rising temperatures that are melting polar ice caps and have been linked to extreme weather around the world.“I think there is some connectivity. Some, something. It depends on how much,” Mr Trump said, according to tweets from New York Times reporters. He’s keeping an “open mind” on the Paris climate accord.

The comments represent an abrupt shift for Mr Trump. The head of his Environmental Protection Agency transition team, Mr Myron Ebell, has questioned the scientific evidence behind global warming. The president-elect’s previous statements on climate change, which include saying that the concept was “by the Chinese”, have put him at odds with most world leaders and an overwhelming majority of scientists.

At a United Nation climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco, that concluded last week, officials from around the globe warned that Mr Trump could isolate the US by backing out the Paris accord. China has vowed to take over as the world’s environmental leader if the US walks away from the effort under Mr Trump.

The reaction from environmentalists to Mr Trump’s apparent about-face ranged from guarded optimism to outright scepticism.

The response from tree huggers to Mr Trump's evident turn around ran from protected good faith to out and out suspicion. 

"We trust the president-elect acknowledges the stakes for the nation in battling this worldwide scourge, the chance to expand on US atmosphere initiative and the earnestness of making great paying American occupations in the worldwide move to cleaner, more brilliant approaches to control our future," Mr Bob Deans, a representative for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a messaged explanation on Tuesday. 

Mr Michael Brune, official chief of the Sierra Club, was less liberal, saying "actions speak louder than words". 

"Trump is joking no one on atmosphere as he at the same time stacks his move group and bureau with atmosphere science deniers and the dirtiest hacks the fossil-fuel industry can offer," Mr Brune said in an announcement. "Demonstrate it, President-elect.