Lost in the din of Donald Trump’s Twitter rampages was the report last week that the White House is “fiercely divided” over Trump’s campaign promise to “cancel” the Paris climate accord. The news came as the president is planning to launch his climate-denial offensive, including an executive order to begin repealing former President Barack Obama’s climate plan, gutting the budgets of various agencies engaged in climate work such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and potentially withdrawing from the Paris accord.
The White House divide is said to pit Trump’s Rasputin, chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, against his daughter Ivanka Trump and hapless Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Yes, in the carnival mirror that is the Trump White House, the climate’s best defender is the former chief executive of ExxonMobil, an anomaly akin to Hannibal Lecter espousing vegetarianism.
Tillerson argued in his confirmation hearings that “it’s important that the United States maintains its seat at the table about how to address the threat of climate change, which does require a global response.” For the United States to abandon its commitments under the Paris accord embraced by virtually every country in the world would devastate Tillerson’s credibility. As the respected career diplomat Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, put it: “In international politics, trust, reliability and keeping your commitments—that’s a big part of how other countries view our country. I can’t think of an issue, except perhaps NATO, where if the U.S. simply walks away, it would have such a major negative impact on how we are seen.”
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.