“I would encourage the President to look long and hard at the science and find a solution. I’m tired of playing defense on the environment,” the South Carolina Republican said in a news conference on Wednesday.
Graham said acknowledging — and embracing — the climate crisis as an issue in the GOP can be a good thing, and the party is ignoring it at its own peril.
“We will win the solution debate, but the only way you’re going to win the debate is admit we’ve got a problem,” Graham said. “Let’s talk about climate change from the innovative and not the regulatory approach.”
Trump himself has consistently confused much of the science around climate change. In an interview with Piers Morgan in June, Trump said, “It used to be called global warming, that wasn’t working, then it was called climate change and now actually it is called extreme weather.”
Graham, otherwise a close ally of Trump’s, has been critical of the President’s climate change efforts (or lack thereof) in the past.
In 2017, Graham called on Trump to stay in the Paris climate accord. He warned that if Trump pulled out of the agreement, it would signal to the world that Trump believed climate change is a hoax.
Trump did not heed Graham’s warnings — and announced the US would withdraw from the accord, though the country cannot formally leave until 2020.
Graham has even joked about Trump’s reticence around climate change.
“Climate change is real, the science is sound and the solutions are available,” Graham said in April. “If I told Trump that [special counsel Robert] Mueller thinks climate change is a hoax, we’d be well on our way.”
Earlier this week, Trump held an event at the White House touting his administration’s environmental record, citing his pullout from the Paris Agreement, opening up public lands for hunters and cleanup of polluted sites as examples of his green efforts. He also noted a strong economy plays a big role in environmental protections.