US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a former oil industry mogul, is reportedly one of the main obstacles to ‘Clexit’ – America’s ‘climate exit’ from the Paris Agreement – within the Trump administration.
Mr Tillerson, former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, and the President’s daughter Ivanka believe the move could damage diplomatic relations with important allies, The New York Times reported.
However senior Trump adviser Steve Bannon, former head of the far-right news website Breitbart which has published articles dismissing climate science, is leading those within the administration who want the President to live up to his pre-election promise to withdraw the US from the international treaty.
Exxon Mobil endorsed the Paris Agreement despite once having denied fossil fuel emissions were causing global warming.
It is thought Mr Tillerson believes it is important the US retains influence on the rest of the world that would be lost if it withdraws from the agreement.
Marc Morano, an ex-Republican Senate staffer who now runs the fossil-fuel funded website Climate Depot, told the Times: “The two greatest obstacles to a Clexit are probably Ivanka and Tillerson.
“Tillerson with his ‘seat at the table’ views could be biggest proponent of not withdrawing the US from the agreement.”
Another climate sceptic, Thomas Pyle, the president of the Institute for Energy Research, expressed the kind of case being made by Mr Bannon.
“If the goal is to fulfill the president’s campaign promises and implement his agenda, there is no value in staying in Paris,” he said.
However a number of Republicans believe the US could potentially remain a token member of the Paris Agreement.
Senator Bob Corker, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, told the Times: “There’s really no obligation. It doesn’t require us to do anything.
“I think they may take a little time to assess whether pulling out makes sense now.”
And Nicholas Burns, who was Under Secretary of State in George W Bush’s administration, said: “I think it would be a major mistake, even a historic mistake, to disavow the Paris deal.
“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 US simply walks away, it would have such a major negative impact on how we are seen.”
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