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Pence’s Stance on Climate Change

Tim Kaine has misrepresented Mike Pence’s current stance on climate change, making it a regular talking point in his campaign speeches.

Kaine, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, has repeatedly claimed that Pence, the Republican vice presidential nominee, “says ‘climate change is a myth.'” Pence did say that on his campaign website when running for the House in 2000. In a post titled “Global Warming Disaster,” Pence wrote: “Global warming is a myth.”

But more recently, on Sept. 27, Pence said “there’s no question” that human activity has “some impact on climate.”

Kaine has made similar claims on at least eight occasions between Oct. 10 and Nov. 2.

SciCHECKinsertIn one instance, at a campaign rally in Davidson, North Carolina, on Oct. 12, however, Kaine correctly used the past tense, claiming, “Mike Pence said climate change is a myth.”

But in many other cases, Kaine misleadingly claimed Pence currently says climate change is a myth.

For example, on Nov. 2 in Dubuque, Iowa, Kaine said, “Donald Trump says, and this is a quote, ‘Climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese.’ And his running mate, Mike Pence, says, ‘It’s a myth.'”

Trump did tweet on Nov. 6, 2012: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” but later said it was a joke, as we wrote in our report on the first presidential debate. However, Trump also has a record of calling global warming a “hoax.”

In an allusion to the 12-step program designed to help people recover from alcohol and other addictions, Kaine went on to say that the “first step is you have to admit you have a problem.” Kaine added that, “You’re not going to solve a problem if you don’t admit you have a problem.”

However, Pence has acknowledged — on at least one occasion — that humans are affecting the climate.

Pence told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Sept. 27, “There’s no question that the activities that take place in this country and in countries around the world have some impact on the environment and some impact on climate.” He added, “Donald Trump and I say, let’s follow the science, but for heaven’s sakes let’s not go rushing into the kind of restrictions on our economy that are putting Americans out of work and, frankly, are driving jobs out of this country.”

But Trump still doesn’t “follow the science.”

Trump told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly on July 26 he “probably did” call climate change a hoax, adding “they’re saying [climate change is] man-made and I say it could have a minor impact, but nothing to what they’re talking about.”

More recently, Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Sept. 27 that Trump believes that “global warming” and “climate change” are “naturally occurring” and not man-made.

When we asked Hillary Clinton’s campaign for evidence more recent than 2000 to back-up Kaine’s claim, spokesperson Josh Schwerin pointed us to other past instances where Pence has questioned the validity of climate change — the most recent instance occurring in 2014.

On Feb. 21, 2014, Pence told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that he didn’t know if humans’ role in climate change “is a resolved issue in science today.” Todd then responded, “a lot of scientists out there” do believe humans are impacting the climate. Pence then said, “I know we’re talking about climate change. Just a few years ago we were talking about global warming. We haven’t seen a lot of warming lately. I remember back in the ’70s we were talking about the coming Ice Age.”

We’ve addressed all three of Pence’s claims before.

First, when Sen. Ted Cruz similarly claimed in January, “none of the alarmists say ‘global warming’ anymore — now it’s ‘climate change,’” we found that to be inaccurate. We explained, “Scientists still use both terms, but tend to use ‘climate change’ more often because, in addition to warming, it refers to phenomena such as sea-level rise and changes in precipitation patterns.”

Second, in March 2016 and November 2015, we addressed Rep. Lamar Smith’s claim that data show there’s been a “halt” in global warming — it’s false. Some research has found that there’s been a warming “slowdown,” and other research suggested there hasn’t been. Still, no research supports “a halt in global warming,” as we wrote.

Third, we wrote about the “global cooling” myth in March 2015, when Cruz cited an article on the topic published in Newsweek in 1975. That article did warn of “ominous signs” of a “cooling world,” but it has been criticized since then – including by its author, Peter Gwynne.

Writing for Inside Science in 2014, Gwynne wrote that “while the hypotheses described in that original story seemed right at the time, climate scientists now know that they were seriously incomplete. Our climate is warming — not cooling, as the original story suggested.”

The fact is, there was no scientific consensus in the 1970s about global cooling when Gwynne wrote his story in 1975, but today there is scientific consensus that human-caused climate change is real.

Regardless of Pence’s past remarks, he more recently has admitted that humans play a role in climate change. However, Pence and his running mate have outlined no policies designed to specifically address climate change, and, in fact, the GOP ticket would undo steps President Obama has taken to reduce carbon emissions.

For more information on both the Democratic and Republican candidates’ positions and policies regarding climate change, please see our article, “The Candidates on Climate Change.”

Editor’s Note: SciCheck is made possible by a grant from the Stanton Foundation.