Correction: A previous version of this post and headline misattributed a quote from Southern CEO Tom Fanning. The quote was originally said by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
- Southern Company Chairman and CEO Tom Fanning said in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box" that while he acknowledges climate change is occurring, he is not convinced carbon dioxide is the primary cause—a belief that puts him at odds with most scientists and accepted research.
- Fanning is also chairman of the board of the Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities.
- His stance on climate change appears largely in line with positions stated by new members of the Trump Administration. During his confirmation hearing, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said it is very difficult to judge the impact human actions on the climate.
Scientists have concluded human action and carbon dioxide are primarily to blame for climate change, but not everyone is on board. And now the CEO of the one of the U.S.' biggest utility companies appears to have joined the skeptics.
When asked during a CNBC appearance if he believes it has been proven that carbon dioxide is the primary cause of climate change, Fanning said: "No, certainly not. Is climate change happening? Certainly. It's been happening for millennia."
The CEO's comments came as the Trump Administration was preparing an executive order to review the Clean Power Plan and roll back several other environmental actions put in place by President Obama. And they largely mirror Pruitt's comments on climate change and human action, when he said it is "subject to continued debate and dialogue."
Those views would appear at odds with the EPA's own web site, which states "carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change."
Previously, Fanning has been cautious in how he discussed climate change previously. His company is developing new reactors at the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia and the combined-cycle and carbon capture plant in Kemper County, Miss. In 2014, Fanning spoke at the Bipartisan Policy Center and said, “nuclear, in a carbon-constrained world, must be a dominant technology."