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How Will Trump Presidency Impact Climate; Trump Pledged to Pull Out of Paris Climate Deal; Rising Violence in Eastern Ukraine; Google Earth Shares Greenland. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired February 8, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: You have been listening to the daily White House press briefing.
Tonight, candidate Donald Trump promise to slash U.S. environmental regulations. How far will he go as president? Former Trump adviser Myron
Ebell joins the program. He calls himself the number one enemy of climate change alarmism and on the other side, Christiana Figueres who shepherded
it in the landmark U.N. Climate Change Accord.
Also ahead, bulletin from Berlin. How does Chancellor Merkel navigate Trump's post American world order and get Putin to put the breaks on the
war in Ukraine. We get a special report from the frontlines.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. A global warning.
Climate scientists the world over are ringing alarm bells about how the earth could change under a Donald Trump presidency. He spent his campaign
railing against environmental regulations, even calling climate change a hoax, making his displeasure clear by nominating Scott Pruitt to head the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Now he's a climate skeptic who as Oklahoma attorney general sued the agency several times. And an action plan reveals that a Trump administration wish
list for the EPA includes reducing regulations such as carbon emission rules and slashing nearly $200 million in climate programs.
Myron Ebell drafted that action plan. He's a member of Trump's transition team who said the consensus on global warming is phony and not based on
science, and he joins me now.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Ebell, welcome to the program. Let me get right to the heart of it. What do you expect to see happen first and foremost at the
EPA, because, you know, the word is that the president wants to eventually abolish it.
How do you think that's likely to proceed?
MYRON EBELL, FORMER TRUMP ADVISOR: Let me begin by saying I'm not part of the Trump administration so I don't represent or speak for it.
President Trump during the campaign made a number of very clear promises. He said the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, will
defund U.N. climate programs and will undo and withdraw President Obama's climate action plan.
Those are some of his key commitments. There are quite a few others on energy and the environment including releasing American energy production
from the constraints that the Obama administration has imposed.
So I think you're going to see a lot more coal and oil and gas production from the United States and you're going to see the U.S. getting rid of its
AMANPOUR: It's a real 180 change that you're proposing and describing. I know you're not part of the administration, but I believe you did advise
Donald Trump on climate and the environment during the transition.
So can I ask you based on what you're saying now, you know, the military, for instance believes that there is climate change happening. The
independent government accountability office had a survey of military assets back in 2014. And it says that the military is experiencing severe
For instance, this Air Force base on a dry lake bed in the American southwest, which is getting flash flooding these days, Fort Irwin in the
Mojave desert and in Alaska here, we're thawing permafrost, decreasing sea ice and rising sea levels are damaging this early warning radar site.
I mean, one of the most important, whatever, organizations in the United States believes it is a threat and it's trying to take measures against
that. What do you say to that?
EBELL: I think that the Department of Defense, who are not scientists just like I'm not a scientist, ought to look at the fifth assessment report
volume on impacts where you will see that there is no evidence of increases in severe weather events such as storms, floods, droughts, that the rate of
sea level rise is within the historic range in the 19th and 20th centuries. And that the environmental challenges that the Defense Department has have
very little to do with climate change.
AMANPOUR: You know, look, I hear what you're saying and as you know, you know, practically 99 percent of the scientific evidence basically disputes
that and is in line with these threats by manmade climate change.
But I want to ask you even if you don't believe that, there have been many, many big business leaders and entrepreneurs in the United States who say
that whatever is happening, you know, climate is changing and perhaps one way of bringing jobs to America, making America great again would be to
invest in green technology, the green environment, the green economy. I mean, surely on that level it must ring a bell with you.
There is a huge climate industrial complex in the United States and Europe that stands to make billions of dollars, tens of billions of dollars,
hundreds of billions of dollars from raising people's energy prices.
These crony corporatists are the people Donald Trump ran against when he ran for president and he won the election over their opposition. They
supported the policies of Secretary Clinton. So I think there's -- as you said it's a 180 degree turn and it's against these big corporations that
hope to benefit off the backs of consumers and producers.
AMANPOUR: But you could also say that the big fossil fuel industry hopes to benefit from the reverse of all of this.
I want to ask you specifically about the president, because he said he cares about the environment and he was quite particular about how he put
that. Just listen and we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean, my primary thing with the environment -- immaculate air, beautiful clean air, and crystal
clean water. That's it. Once you go beyond that, you start to lose all of us, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So he's saying he likes all, you know, the clean and beauty of a managed environment, but as you say he doesn't want to go the extra yard
But the thing is if we put up pictures now that show, you know, what fuel looked like and other places looked like before regulations and before the
EPA went into effect, I mean it was really horrible.
Smog, you could barely see the clouds for the smokestacks and you're talking about bringing back the coal industry and this and that.
What do you expect will happen when all of that comes back? What do you expect our environment and our water and our air will look like?
EBELL: President Trump said during the campaign that he wants to concentrate on the core missions of the EPA, which is to provide clean air
and water for the American people. In fact, that is being done. Most of that work is being done at the state level. About half of the EPA's budget
goes directly through to state grants.
He said he wants to continue those grants. He wants to cut the bureaucracy in Washington that seems to have a lot of time to deal with issues that are
not core issues like climate change.
So I think there's a big room for savings while still protecting the environment and providing clean air and clean water.
AMANPOUR: Or I will discuss -- I just want to ask one thing and you have been asked before, what if you're wrong?
EBELL: Well, you know, what if the alarmists are wrong, who are denying the benefits of affordable abundant energy to billions of people around the
world, who live in energy poverty.
There are over 1 billion people who don't have any electricity. There are a couple billion more who have very little electricity. And the policies
being pursued in Europe and have been in the United States really consign these people to perpetual energy poverty.
So what if they are wrong and we waste these trillions of dollars and deny them the benefits of modern civilization.
AMANPOUR: Very quickly, I hear that. What if you're wrong?
EBELL: If I'm wrong, we have -- I would say the policies being proposed today to deal with global warming are a dead end. They cannot possibly
If I'm wrong, technological innovation in free markets is the way that will solve this problem as it solves all other environmental challenges. So if
we have global cooling, global warming or some other challenge, it's a free people in free markets, innovating that will solve the problem.
AMANPOUR: Myron Ebell, thank you very much for joining me from Washington.
EBELL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And we're going to turn now to Christiana Figueres, who is the U.N. climate chief, and you helped, as I said, shepherd in the landmark
CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, U.N. CLIMATE CHIEF: I was the U.N. chief.
AMANPOUR: What did I say? I said that. You was. You were. Let's not waste our valuable time.
You heard that. United States is a huge contributor right now to trying to get their head around climate change and all of that. Do you see the Paris
climate change unravelling as Myron Ebell just laid out?
FIGUERES: No, I don't. For one thing, we have actually moved beyond ideology. We were now at the fundamentals of climate change action, which
actually are about economics.
And most countries, with a couple of exceptions, have actually decided that this is in their economic interest, that this is actually at $30 a megawatt
hour this is actually cheaper than fossil fuels so it is better, it is cheaper, it is much more healthy.
You can't have clean air if you're still burning coal. So you have health, you have much cheaper electricity, you have better food production. You
have so many other benefits that are coming that most countries have decided this is in their economic interest ideology aside.
[14:10:14] AMANPOUR: OK, ideology aside maybe, but the practical effects of the leader of the world's only super power not believing as you believe
and talking very clearly at least certainly from his adviser's, former adviser's perspective, of a 180 on regulations pulling the U.S. out of its
obligations under the Paris Climate Accord.
What does that do for the accord and for slowing the temperature rise?
FIGUERES: First of all, he, himself, has said, Mr. Ebell doesn't speak for the administration so we have to wait and see. But even if the United
States decides to pull out, it means four years of legal work to pull out of the Paris agreement --
AMANPOUR: So it's not that easy.
FIGUERES: It's not very easy, no, unless they pull out of the convention, which is -- so there are many different ways of doing it. But in any
event, let's leave the administration to decide what they are going to do.
Even if they pull out one way or the other, it is not going to change the direction of the global economy. The direction towards decarbonization is
set and it's not set by ideology, it is set by economics and it is set by the advance of technology.
The fact is that technology is moving for renewable energies much more than for fossil fuel. That is the way that we are advancing.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Ebell brought up why consign other countries to poverty. For instance, he mentioned India and other places.
China on the other hand has spoken out very forcefully. I mean, it took a long time to get China into the climate change tent and now it insists on
Could China be the leader if the U.S. relinquishes that? What would that mean?
FIGUERES: Very much. And this has to do with jobs actually, OK. That -- china is interested because of jobs and obviously because of health and
quality of air. Why jobs?
Let me just use the example of the United States, OK.
The fact is that one out of every 50 new jobs across the board all sectors, all technologies are in solder today in the United States, competing
against every other job. One in every --
AMANPOUR: In solar.
FIGUERES: In solar, not even just all renewable, just in solar.
In fact, to the point where there are more jobs in solar than in everything together combining oil, coal and gas in the United States.
Now, which is the one job that is on the fastest growth into the future? Wind energy technology and technician. Wind technician is actually the one
job in the United States that is going farther because that's the new wave beyond after solar. This is about creating jobs. This is about really
understanding where are we going to be 20, 30 years from now.
And if the United States decides that they are going to take away the carrots, the incentives that the corporations in the United States have
right now, to invest in these technologies and pull out and diminish the capacity of the United States to export these technologies, any deficit in
the market is actually filled in by someone else.
So if that offer of technologies is pulled out of an increasing demand globally, it's going to be substituted very quickly by China and India
because they have an industry that is competent and competitive. And they will move in very quickly. They in fact already are.
AMANPOUR: It's really fascinating. It's amazing that this debate has been reopened. Really, really interesting at this moment.
Christiana Figueres, former U.N. climate chief, thank you very much indeed.
FIGUERES: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now the climate's assault on our environment transforms it before our very eyes.
Next the European war hidden from view mostly, but we have a special report of what it's like to live on the front lines of that ongoing war in Eastern
Ukraine. After this.
[14:15:30] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
Russia's propaganda war has a new challenger, a 24-hour Russian speaking TV channel, just been launched from the Czech Republic and Washington with the
aim of countering Kremlin misinformation.
This as Europe's forgotten war flares up again in Eastern Ukraine, with at least 35 people killed in the past week along.
Our Phil Black takes stock of the human factor unfolding on the front lines.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The horrors of war aren't easily swept away. For almost three years the front line in
Eastern Ukraine has shifted close to and around Deshta Konishenka's (ph) home. She fled as shelling crept closer. Minutes later, the windows
exploded in a shower of broken glass as shrapnel tore through the building.
Her daughter, Delina Yovshikova (ph) shows me what she calls a gift, a fragment of the large explosive projectile that landed just outside. This
neighborhood in Avdiivka is scarred by war. Residents know the shells falling here are fired by pro-Russian separatists, the fighters American
President Donald Trump recently said may not be taking orders from Moscow. Few here believe that to be true.
* says, "I hope the American people will never experience something like this."
On the same street, we meet the Gleb Yuskov (ph). The 5-year-old beams proudly when he shows us his puppies, but his face darkens when he talks
about the war and fear he's lived with for most of his life.
Gleb (ph) says when the shooting gets close, he and his mother hide in a room with no windows. They hold each other and he prays, "Save us, God.
Please rescue us."
The war is a constant presence on these streets, one that forces children to stay inside.
Marica (ph) and her brother Denilo (ph) are often kept from school. Their mother Beth Larnan (ph) tells me after the most recent shelling, Marica
(ph) is too scared to be left in a room alone.
OLEKSI SAVKEVICH, FATHER: It's like roulette, yes, when the shell can hit your house and it's very dangerous for the psychology of children.
BLACK: Homes are shelled here. Their owners are often too poor to pay for repairs or move somewhere else. So teams of volunteers come to patch up
what they can. But there's no one to help with the unseen emotional damage inflicted on people every day by a war which has become an inescapable and
defining feature of their lives.
Phil Black, CNN, Avdiivka, Eastern Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: Russian roulette indeed as you heard that father said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel who led the sanctions against Russia and later helped broker a ceasefire in Ukraine has asked President Vladimir
Putin to help end the violence there.
David McAllister is from Merkel's CDU Party and he is the new chair of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee and he joins us from
Welcome to the program, Mr. McAllister.
DAVID MCALLISTER, CDU PARTY: Good evening from Brussels.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you. You saw that report. You can hear the heart trending toll that having. There was a lot of worry with President Trump
that perhaps, you know, some of the measure would be lifted from Russia before they met their obligations under the ceasefire, et cetera.
What do you think now that actually the U.N. ambassadors come out very strongly on this regard? Do you think sanctions will stay?
MCALLISTER: I just saw your report and I am deeply concerned about the developments in Ukraine about the escalating violence and the humanitarian
consequences. What we need now is an immediate ceasefire. The Minsk agreements are not working and that's why as long as the Minsk agreements
haven't been fully implemented, we cannot lift our sanctions against Russia.
And Chancellor Merkel was very clear on Tuesday when she phoned Mr. Putin to tell him that he should use his influence on the separatists in Eastern
Ukraine to stop the violence. People are being killed every day.
AMANPOUR: And what sort of a response does she get? I mean, do you feel there's a renewed seriousness to try to stop that violence from the
[14:20:15] MCALLISTER: Well, the key lies in Mr. Putin's hands. He is responsible for this new violation of the ceasefire. And if we want the
Minsk agreements to be implemented, we have to stand together as a West -- it's about the credibility of the western world and it's also about the
credibility of the defense of international norms.
Once the Minsk agreements are starting to be implemented, then we can discuss to lift sanctions.
AMANPOUR: I want to follow on from what you've just said. It's about the credibility of the western world, the security and the defense. You know
that -- we read that the German chancellor and the country is nervous right now in a post Trump world.
He'd cast dispersions on NATO before coming out and saying he strongly supports NATO a few days ago. Your former Foreign Minister Steinmeier said
a couple of weeks ago, the old world of the 20th century is gone and Germans have to prepare for drastic changes.
What specific changes and are you still in that zone of being worried about this new world order?
MCALLISTER: Close transatlantic relations especially on trade and on defense and also the American support of European integration have been key
pillars of U.S. foreign policy in the last decades.
And I do believe that this should be continued. We in Europe are ready to continue our close transatlantic cooperation on the basis of our shared
values, democracy, the rule of law and the dignity of human beings. And I believe it's also in the American interest that we continue a strong and
close cooperation despite us having some different views on certain issues and yes there have been some irritating tweets, interviews and statements
by the new president.
I do believe that it's also in the American interest to continue our close cooperation. We are allies for good reason.
AMANPOUR: You know, I want to ask whether you feel confident, because Germany and much of the continent -- the nation, the continent relies on
American protection, whether you are confident about that.
And what do you feel is your biggest threat right now? Because the new president has not just talked about NATO. He's talk -- you know, there's
the Muslim ban. There is the support for the further break-up and exits from the EU, you know, following Brexit.
What is the big strategic issue that Germany and Chancellor Merkel are most concerned about right now?
MCALLISTER: We rely on the close cooperation with Americans when it comes to our European defense and security. And the president has made a few
statements but other representatives on Washington have also been clear on the future of NATO, the new foreign secretary, the new defense secretary.
Others, NATO is a success story and we should continue our cooperation in NATO.
What is important now is to talk to each other on all levels. Heads of government with the president, commissioners from the European Union and
ministers for the American counterparts and also we elected officials from the European parliament and the national parliaments should reach out to
our American counterparts in the Republican Party and in the Democratic Party to talk about how important it is to closer cooperate in these
AMANPOUR: David McAllister, thanks you so much for joining us.
MCALLISTER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And when we come back, Greenland imploding? Imagine a whole world watching an icy land melt away. That's next.
[14:26:00] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, earlier you heard the overwhelming signs of climate change being debated and still denied in very
important corridors of power.
Imagine a world where you don't actually have to listen to the discussion about the perils facing our planet because you can see them for yourself.
The vanishing ice of Greenland isn't a new story, but now you can watch what's happening with your own eyes from anywhere, thanks to Google Earth.
If the message is still not sinking in, Google also recently released this timelapse imagery to show how far and how fast the ice there has retreated
That is it for our program tonight. And remember, you can always listen to our podcast, you can see us online @Amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook
and Twitter. Thank you for watching and good-bye from London.