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Vice President Mike Pence refused to say on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday whether climate change was a legitimate threat to the United States.

Jake Tapper: "But is what people are calling a climate emergency, is it a threat? Do you think it's a threat, manmade climate emergency is a threat?"
Pence: "I think the answer to that is going to be based upon the science."
Tapper: "Well the science says yes. I'm asking you what you think."
Pence: "Well, there's many in the science that ..."
Tapper: "The science community in your own administration, at NOAA, at the DNI, they all say it is a threat. But you won't for some reason."
Pence: "What we've said is that we're not going to raise utility rates. Remember what President Obama said?"
Tapper: "But it's not a threat?"
Pence: "He said he his climate change plan, he said it is necessarily going to cause utility rates to skyrocket and that would force us into these green technologies. Now you have Democrats all running for president that are running on a Green New Deal that would break this economy."
Tapper: "Okay. So you don't think it is a threat?"
Pence: "I think we're making great progress reducing carbon emissions. America has the cleanest air and water in the world."
Tapper: "That is not true. We don't have the cleanest air and water in the world. We don't. You get back to me with statistics to show it."

The big picture: As CNN's Tapper points out, the Trump administration's own director of National Intelligence and other agencies have identified climate change as a threat to national security.

  • Pence was asked about the Environmental Protection Agency's recent rollback of President Obama's Clean Power Plan, which relaxes regulations controlling carbon dioxide emissions from America’s coal plants.
  • The vice president appeared to acknowledge that carbon emissions aren't good for the environment — which is further than the climate-denying Trump has gone — but cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are the main cause of climate change.

Go deeper: Trump and Republicans are isolated on climate change

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.