US President Donald Trump “believes the climate is changing and he believes pollutants are part of the equation,” says the US ambassador to the UN.
He knows “the US has to be responsible for it and that’s what we’re going to do,” said Nikki Haley.
The president provoked widespread condemnation when he announced on Thursday the US would withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement.
The US becomes one of only three countries outside its framework.
When he made the announcement, Mr Trump said the deal would hurt the US economy. He made no mention of climate change science.
During his election campaign, Mr Trump had said that climate change was a hoax and, since his announcement on Thursday, has avoided questions on the subject, as has White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
“Just because the US got out of a club doesn’t mean we aren’t going to care about the environment,” Ms Haley told CNN, adding that the terms of the Paris agreement, reached in 2015, were “too onerous”.
Scott Pruitt, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, said: “The world applauded when we joined Paris. And you know why? I think they applauded because they knew it would put this country at a disadvantage.”
Mr Trump said the agreement would cost the US $3tn (£2.3tn) in lost GDP and 6.5 million jobs – while rival economies like China and India were treated more favourably.
The president is “absolutely intent on making sure that we have clean air, clean water, that he makes sure that we’re doing everything we can to keep America’s moral compass in the world when it comes to the environment,” said Ms Haley. [/restrict]