Senators concerned as Trump official disputes UN climate change warning

Senators concerned as Trump official disputes UN climate change warning
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The Trump administration on Sunday again appeared at odds with lawmakers over the severity of climate change and how it should be addressed in wake of a United Nations report warning of potential dire consequences.

The report, which warns that the world is on a path toward catastrophic climate change if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t cut dramatically by 2030, was a key focus of the Sunday news shows, with top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow pushing back against it.

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Sens. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenTrump planning Air Force One flyover during July 4 celebration at Mall: report Trump planning Air Force One flyover during July 4 celebration at Mall: report Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw MORE (D-Md.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive takeaways from Trump's 2020 kickoff rally Five takeaways from Trump's 2020 kickoff rally Sanders tears into Trump in response to campaign kickoff rally MORE (I-Vt.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeDemocrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE (R-Ariz.), meanwhile, were quick to call for action, and Republican Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments MORE (Fla.) acknowledged the scientific consensus that humans are the chief contributor to climate change.

The report, made public last week by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says the world needs to decrease emissions by 45 percent by 2030 to avoid catastrophic consequences.

Kudlow disputed the report during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” saying that he believes “they overestimate” and questioning the degree to which humans have contributed to climate change.

“I’m just saying do we know precisely, and I mean worth modeling, 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. I think we’re still exploring all of that,” he said.

"I don’t think we should panic," Kudlow added. "I don’t think there’s an imminent disaster coming, but I think we should look at this in a level-headed and analytic way."

Kudlow’s skepticism over the severity of global climate change falls in line with the views of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE, who has previously called climate change a “hoax” and last week appeared to question the accuracy of the U.N. report.

Sanders, also appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” slammed Kudlow over his comments, calling them “so irresponsible, so dangerous.”

“It's just hard to believe that a leading government official could make them," the Vermont senator said. “We have 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."

Concern stemming from the report crossed the political aisle on Sunday, with Flake saying on “This Week” that the report is “pretty dire.” He also said he believes Republicans who have downplayed the scientific consensus on climate change are going in the wrong direction and called on the GOP to take a leading role in confronting the issue.

"I hope that we can move along with the rest of the world and address this," Flake said. “There are things that we can do and should do and I think Republicans need to be at the forefront if we want to keep our place and keep our seats.”

Van Hollen, a Democratic senator from Maryland, also called on Republicans to address the issue, saying on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the GOP needs to “stop making things worse.” 

Van Hollen pointed to the release of the U.N. report and Hurricane Michael, which made landfall last week in Florida and devastated the Florida Panhandle, as evidence of climate change’s severity.

"And at the same you have the Trump administration and a lot of Republicans who just want to put their head in the sands. They don’t want to hear the information," Van Hollen said.

"This administration and Republicans in Congress are actually rolling back auto emission standards, rolling back clean power plant rules. Let’s stop making things worse and then we definitely need to take action to make things better," he added.

But Rubio raised doubts over what lawmakers should do in response to climate change, even as he said he recognizes the scientific consensus that human activity is the main driver of the issue.

When asked on “Face the Nation” whether he believes humans are the chief contributor to climate change, the Florida senator said it’s his view that “that’s what a lot of scientists say.”

He added, however, that policies that are considered in response to climate change need to be weighed against “the public interest and other topics.”

“If we're going to have that debate about whether certain laws should be passed in order to alleviate what some scientists or a lot of scientists are saying is the cause of this, that has to be balanced with the public interest and other topics like the economy and the like,” he said.