Trump has been talking to Al Gore about the Paris Climate Agreement. Seriously.
President Donald Trump can’t seem to make up his mind about whether to keep the U.S. in the landmark Paris Climate Agreement or pull out of the pact altogether, but there are signs he is getting advice from across the ideological spectrum.
According to a source close to Gore, the president and the Nobel Prize-winning climate activist spoke by phone about the Paris accord on Tuesday. The call was first reported by Axios.
The call comes more than five months after Gore and Trump met at Trump Tower to discuss climate change issues, a meeting arranged by Trump’s daughter and assistant to the president, Ivanka.
However, since that meeting, Trump’s actions on climate change have stunned even the most pessimistic climate advocates. The administration has swiftly moved to dismantle the Obama administration’s climate change programs, gut climate change websites, and overhaul scientific review boards.
Trump appointed a climate denier, Scott Pruitt, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and stocked other climate-related agencies with fossil fuel allies, such as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
In addition to killing the landmark Clean Power Plan, which would regulate carbon emissions from power plants, Trump has proposed draconian budget cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Department, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), all of which are top global climate science research organizations.
But on the Paris Agreement, which went into effect in November 2016, Trump’s advisors have deadlocked on what to do. A pivotal meeting scheduled for Tuesday was postponed, and according to White House spokesman Sean Spicer, no decision on the administration’s approach is expected until after the G7 Summit in late May.
The Paris Agreement is the first climate accord to secure emissions reduction commitments from major developing nations as well as the industrialized world. It sets a target of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to preindustrial levels by 2100. All of the Paris commitments are voluntary, however, with no penalties imposed on countries that fail to live up to their targets.
Ivanka Trump and her husband, Trump’s senior advisor Jared Kushner, have reportedly been pushing for Trump to keep the U.S. within the agreement, arguing that pulling out would jeopardize key relationships with major trading partners, among other consequences. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also thought to be in the remain camp when it comes to the Paris Agreement.
Others, like Pruitt, have been urging Trump to follow his campaign promise and remove the U.S. from the agreement, using the spurious argument that remaining in the treaty could hurt the EPA’s attempts to dismantle greenhouse gas emissions regulations.
Gore, for his part, was in Paris for the climate talks in December 2015. While the contents of his conversation with the Trump are unknown, he may have stressed how important Paris is for American innovation, and explained some of the legal context that is rumored to be bedeviling the administration.
As a senator, vice president and private citizen, Gore has played a role in every major environmental negotiation since the Rio Earth Conference in 1992.
In other words, he knows what he’s talking about when he says why this particular treaty is worth sticking with.
The call with Trump may have been awkward, however, considering that the trailer for Gore’s new climate documentary, An Inconvenient Sequel, casts Trump and his fossil fuel industry donors as villains in the fight to cut carbon emissions and transition to renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.