Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Tuesday that he believes in climate change and called for a debate about humans’ role in causing it — but like other administration officials, he said he did not know President Donald Trump’s stance on the issue.
“Here’s what I believe, and I’m pretty much on the record, but I love getting the opportunity to talk about it again: The climate is changing. Man is having an impact on it,” Perry said during Tuesday’s White House press briefing.
“I’ve said that time after time," he said, adding that he wanted an "intellectual conversation" about the impacts of humans on the climate.
Perry, a two-time GOP presidential candidate and the former governor of Texas, told CNBC in an interview last week that he does not believe carbon dioxide emissions to be the main driver of climate change, a view that puts him at odds with the overwhelming majority of climate scientists.
Last Thursday, Perry told the Senate Appropriations Committee that man’s impact on climate change “is not settled science.” At Tuesday’s briefing, he suggested that the issue could benefit from more open debate and that he was personally not so dug into his views that they would not change.
“I mean, what is the other side? The people who say ‘the science is settled. It’s done. If you don’t believe that, you’re a skeptic. A luddite.’ I don’t buy that,” Perry said. “This is America. Have a conversation. Let’s come out of the shadows of hiding behind your political statements and let’s talk about it. What’s wrong with that? And I’m full well – you know, I can be convinced. But why not, let’s talk about it.”
While the energy secretary spoke freely about his own views on climate change, Trump himself has been relatively quiet on the issue, and his spokespeople have been unable to answer questions from reporters as to whether or not the president believes in climate change and man’s role in it.
Trump at one time suggested that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese to harm American business interests, while at other times suggesting that he might believe that humans play some role in the phenomenon.
Perry, speaking during the White House’s "Energy Week," said he hadn’t talked to the president about the issue.