Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has come out as a global warming skeptic, telling a group of business leaders that humans alone are not to blame for a warming planet.
“Climate has been changing for four billion years,” Sarkozy said, according to AFP. “Sahara has become a desert, it isn’t because of industry.”
“You need to be as arrogant as men are to believe we changed the climate,” he said.
Sarkozy, who is campaigning to reclaim the presidency in 2017, said the media focused way too much attention on the United Nations climate summit in Paris last year where nearly 200 countries agreed to a deal to cut global emissions.
The former right-wing president said media outlets should have focused more on the devastating terror attacks launched by Islamic state militants a couple weeks before UN delegates met in Paris to talk global warming. The attacks killed more than 130 people, wounding even more, and put the entire city on lockdown while the terrorists were hunted down.
French Socialist President Francois Hollande imposed martial law and began a multi-national manhunt to find the suspected attackers. Arrests have been made, but security officials estimate between 30 and 40 people involved in the attacks are still at large, according to CNN.
Sarkozy nearly called for the UN summit to be postponed in the wake of the attacks, but was convinced by Hollande to keep his mouth shut, according to reports. Hollande even suggested the fight against global warming and terrorism were linked.
“I can’t separate the fight with terrorism from the fight against global warming,” Hollande said as the UN climate summit began.
“These are two big global challenges we have to face up to, because we have to leave our children more than a world freed of terror, we also owe them a planet protected from catastrophes,” he said.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said it’s “essential” to fight global warming in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Sarkozy, however, says mass migration, primarily from the Middle East to Europe, is a much more important issue than global warming.
“Never has the earth experienced such a demographic shock as it is about to, because in a few years there will be 11 billion of us. And man is directly responsible in this case but nobody talks about it,” Sarkozy told business leaders.
But Sarkozy hasn’t always been a climate skeptic. When Sarkozy first took office in 2007, he promised to “be a strong proponent in the international effort to curb climate change,” according to CNN.
At the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks, Sarkozy said “we have only 87 days left to succeed or to fail through the conclusions, unanimous conclusions of scientists, global warming is already a reality.”
“No one can contest this reality or deny it,” Sarkozy said at the time.
The former president also signed a letter with German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling for the UN to support a carbon tax on oil imports from countries that don’t do enough to fight global warming.
“It would be unacceptable for the efforts of the most ambitious countries to be undermined by the carbon emissions released by lack of or insufficient action by other countries,” the two leaders wrote in their letter to UN Secretary -General Ban Ki-moon.
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