President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser on Sunday brushed off the dire warning issued this month by United Nations researchers who say the world is quickly running out of time to avoid catastrophic global warming.
Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said on ABC’s “This Week” that he believes the authors of the report, released a week ago by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “overestimate” the likelihood and potential timetable for environmental disasters.
“Personally, I think the UN study is way, way too difficult,” Kudlow told host George Stephanopoulos. “I won’t say it’s a scare tactic, but I think they overestimate.”
He added: “I don’t think we should panic. I don’t think there’s an imminent catastrophe coming. But I think we should look at this in a level-headed and analytic way.”
The IPCC report, authored by 91 researchers and editors from 40 countries that cited more than 6,000 scientific references, details the barriers that exist to keeping the planet from warming beyond the 1.5-degree Celsius target, considered the aspirational goal of the 2015 Paris climate accord.
If greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the authors wrote, Earth could face cataclysmic planetary changes by 2040, including worsening food shortages, wildfires and droughts, as well as rapidly rising sea levels.
In order to avert a warming disaster, the global economy must transform at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent,” according to the report. But under Trump, the U.S. ― the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases per capita ― is shredding major policies that aim to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint. In one of his early presidential acts last year, he announced the U.S. would pull out of the historic Paris climate accord.
Kudlow on Sunday downplayed the overwhelming scientific evidence when asked whether Trump planned to “do anything about” climate change.
“I’m not denying any climate change issues, George, I’m just saying, ‘Do we know precisely ― and I mean worth modeling ― things like how much of it is man-made, how much of it is solar, how much of it is oceanic, how much of it is rainforest and other issues?’” Kudlow said. “I think we’re still exploring all of that.”
Stephanopoulos did not follow up on the question, so it’s unclear what Kudlow may have meant when he wondered how much climate change is “rainforest.”
Despite what Trump and his senior aides say, at least 97 percent of climate scientists agree that greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver of global warming trends over the past century, according to NASA.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who followed Kudlow’s appearance on “This Week,” condemned the economic leader’s response to the UN report.
“The comments, a moment ago, that Larry Kudlow made are so irresponsible, so dangerous, that it’s just hard to believe that a leading government official could make them,” Sanders said.
Citing one of the report’s findings, he said, “We have 12 years ― 12 years ― to substantially cut the amount of carbon in our atmosphere or this planet, our country, the rest of the world is going to suffer irreversible damage.”
“We are in crisis mode and you have an administration that virtually does not even recognize the reality of climate change, and their policies working with the fossil fuel industry are making a bad situation worse,” Sanders said.