During a on-the-record meeting with several New York Times journalists, President-elect Donald Trump seemed to soften his position on climate change.
Previously, Trump had claimed that climate change was a "hoax" created by the Chinese, and, although he's since walked that specific claim back, his views on the matter remained controversial. In his meeting with New York Times journalists, though, Trump said he was keeping an open mind and seemed to admit to a connection between climate change and human activity.
Since taking office, environmentalists have been alarmed at the potential damage Trump could do to progress in battling climate change. He has pledged to leave the Paris Climate Agreement and has threatened to further deregulate a fossil fuel industry that, according to the scientific community, is already doing irreparable damage to the environment.
Recently, a federal district court judge granted 21 youth plaintiffs the right to sue the federal government over climate change. Their case is meant to emphasize that it will be the younger generation, not Trump or current government officials, who will have to reckon with the damage of climate change. The lawsuit is likely one Trump will inherit unless President Obama comes to the table for a settlement in the short-term, as it is filed against the federal government.
For now, Trump's backpedaling could serve as an encouraging sign for environmentalists.
If he truly is keeping an open mind, there may be hope that his administration will, at the very least, avoid dismantling some of the progress President Obama made on lowering emissions and bringing together a global compromise on tackling the issue.
Of course, if he isn't — Trump is known for changing narratives as it suits him — young environmental activists are already in the wings, ready to take on the challenge.