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FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor repeatedly declined to answer on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday whether he believes human activity is responsible for climate change, instead saying, "I'm going to leave all that up to the scientists."

Why it matters: It is an overwhelming scientific consensus that greenhouse gases emitted by human activity are a driving factor of climate change. While President Trump has frequently denied this consensus, his own administration has published reports concluding there is no credible explanation for modern-day global warming other than the burning of fossil fuels.

The big picture: Gaynor leads the agency responsible for responding to extreme weather events, which scientists say are being exacerbated and made more frequent by climate change. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned earlier this month of the potential for an "extremely active" hurricane season in the Atlantic.

What he's saying: "I'm not a scientist. My role as the nation's emergency manager is to deliver those valuable resources to those impacted by disasters no matter the cause, no matter the place. That's my mission," Gaynor said.

Go deeper: Climate change is fueling this summer's extreme weather

Go deeper

WMO: Carbon dioxide levels continue to rise despite coronavirus lockdowns

A protestor wearing a face mask displays a placard reading 'Save The Earth' during the climate crisis protest in Seoul. Photo: Simon Shin/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Although a slowdown in industrial activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic has helped cut emissions of many pollutants and greenhouse gases, it has not reduced record levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday.

Why it matters: Record levels of greenhouse gases are trapping heat in the atmosphere, increasing temperatures and driving more extreme weather, ice melt, sea-level rise and ocean acidification, the WMO said, noting that "carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for centuries and in the ocean for even longer."

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 24, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Biden's emerging climate orbit

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

As of Tuesday morning, we know a lot more about President-elect Joe Biden climate personnel orbit, even as picks for agencies like EPA and DOE are outstanding, so here are a few early conclusions.

Why it matters: They're the highest-level names yet announced who will have a role in what Biden is promising will be a far-reaching climate and energy agenda.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.