By Gerard Sapés and Joaquim Elcacho
The president-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, is beginning to recognize the evidence of climate change and, although he is very shy, he is willing to consider the possibility that humans are responsible for global warming.
During the last months, Trump has aligned himself with the denialist sectors and even went so far as to affirm that climate change was an “invention of the Chinese” to harm the United States; in addition to announcing that his country will withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
Now, in the first interview given to The New York Times ((print edition, November 23) after the elections, the future president claims to have “an open mind” to study the continuity of the United States in the Paris Agreement and admits the possibility that the increase in temperatures recorded in recent decades is partially related to human activity.
To know in detail Donald Trump's opinion on climate change, we present below a transcript of the part of the interview in which he refers to this topic.
In the first question, columnist Thomas Friedman refers to a previous article (by Friedman himself) in which he asked Trump, with some irony, not to ignore climate change because the first affected would be the president-elector himself, since it has several golf courses (such as the one in Doral) in areas near the sea, which could disappear with the rise in sea level.
Thomas L. Friedman: Mr. President-elect, can I ask you a question? One of the issues that you were very careful not to talk about during your campaign, and you still haven't talked about, is an issue that touches my heart, the issue of climate change, the Paris agreement, how you intend to deal with it. You own some of the most beautiful Links [Trump International Golf Links] -style golf courses in the world…
Donald Trump: [Chuckling] I read your article. Some are even going to improve because in fact as Doral [the golf course] is a bit far [from the sea]… so it will be perfect. He [it is not known who he is referring to] does not say that. He only says that the fields that are near the water are going to disappear, but Doral will still be in perfect shape. (Laughs)
Thomas L. Friedman: But it is very important to me, and I think for many of our readers, to know where you stand. I don't think anyone is opposed to, you know, using all forms of energy. But is he going to remove America from its position as a world leader in the fight against climate change?
Donald Trump: I'm looking at it very carefully, Tom. I am going to tell you something. I have an open mind on this topic. We will look at it very carefully. You don't normally hear these things, but there are people on the other side who aren't even ... [N. del T. hints that there are many people who think that climate change is not real]
Thomas L. Friedman: I was on 'Squawk Box' [TV show] with Joe Kernen this morning, so I heard a lot about it. [N. Joe Kernen is a news anchor for the news show and in the debate on Squawk Box it has been stated multiple times that climate change is not real]. [Laughs]
Donald Trump: Joe is one of them. But a lot of smart people disagree with you. I have a very open mind. And I'm going to study a lot of the things that have happened around this topic and I'm going to contemplate it very carefully. But I have an open mind.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. [President and CEO of The New York Times]: Well, since we live on an island, sir, I want to thank you for having an open mind. We have seen what these storms are causing, right? We have seen it personally, directly.
Tomas L. Friedman: But are you open-minded about it?
Donald Trump: I got it. And we've always had storms, Arthur.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr .: Not like you are.
Donald Trump: You know, the hottest day ever seen took place in 1890 and something ... in 1898. You know, one can bring many examples to (support) different points of view. I have a totally open mind. My uncle was a professor at the M.I.T. for 35 years. He was a great engineer, scientist. He was a great guy. And it was ... a long time ago, he thought - about this a long time ago - he had opinions on this issue. It's a difficult topic. I'm not sure anyone will ever find out. I know we have, they say they have science on one side but then they also have those horrible emails that were sent between scientists. Where was that, in Genoa or wherever it was five years ago? Terrible. Where they were hunted, you know, so you see that and you say, what is this all about? I have an absolutely open mind. I'm going to tell you the following: Clean air is vitally important. Clean water, crystal clear water is very important. Security is very important.
And you know, you mentioned a lot of the golf courses. I have large, very successful golf courses. I have received many environmental awards for how I have managed them. I have done a tremendous amount of work that has yielded great results. Sometimes I would say that in fact I am an environmentalist and some smile and others who know me understand that it is true. Open minded.
James Bennet: When you say open mind, do you mean that you are not sure whether human activity is the cause of climate change? Do you think human activity is connected to it or not?
Donald Trump: I think right now ... Well, I think it's partially connected. There is something, a little. It depends on how much. It also depends on how much it is going to cost our companies. You have to understand that our companies are not competitive right now. They really are not competitive. About four weeks ago, I started adding a little phrase in many of my speeches, that we have lost 70,000 factories since W. Bush, 70,000. When I saw the figure for the first time I said: 'It must be a mistake. It can't be 70, you can't have 70,000, you couldn't imagine that there are 70,000 factories here. 'And it wasn't a mistake, it's true. We have lost 70,000 factories.
We are no longer a competitive country compared to other countries. We have to become competitive. We are not for many reasons. This is becoming more and more the motive. Because a lot of these countries that we do business with make deals with our president, or whoever, and then they don't honor the deals, and you know it. And it's much less expensive for your companies to make products. So I'm going to study [this issue] very seriously, and I think I have a lot of influence on it. And I think what I say is heard, especially by people who don't believe in it [climate change]. And we are going to let you know.
Thomas L. Friedman: I'd be sorry to see the Royal Aberdeen [in Scotland, one of the Trump International Golf Links chain courses] underwater.
Donald Trump: The North Sea, it could be, that [golf course] is fine, right?
Translation and annotations by Gerard Sapés, doctoral student at the University of Montana (USA); graduate in Biology, specialized in animal biology, plant biology and ecology; Master in terrestrial ecology and biodiversity management.
Original text in English, according to the transcript published by The New York Times
Photo: Donald Trump at the Women's British Open Golf Championships held in Turnberry, Scotland in 2015. (Paul Faith / AFP)