Obama diplomat to push Trump team on climate work

Obama diplomat to push Trump team on climate work
© Getty Images

President Obama’s top climate negotiator says he will encourage President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE’s administration to keep working on climate change.

Trump’s transition team has begun meeting with officials at the State Department, climate envoy Jonathan Pershing told reporters on Tuesday, though he hasn’t had the chance to talk to them yet. 


But if Trump’s team asks Pershing for advice on how to handle international climate negotiations, he said he’ll make a scientific, diplomatic and economic case for continuing Obama’s work on the issue.

“The global community has decided to act, and in that sense, I don’t think it’s helpful for the U.S. to stand aside, i think it’s important to move forward. They need to move forward,” Pershing said on a call with reporters Tuesday. 

“There is enormous opportunity here for us. … The opportunities are global, and the U.S. is a pretty small share of the market, so if we actually want to play in that space, we’ve got to play globally. We’ve got to be an international actor.”

Pershing just attended an annual international climate meeting held in Morocco earlier this month, where global negotiators reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate deal reached last year. 

But Trump’s upcoming presidency loomed over the meeting. The president-elect does not support the scientific consensus around climate change and has said he will pull the U.S. back from international work on the issue once he takes office.

One of Trump’s top transition officials for the State Department, Steven Groves, is a Heritage Foundation scholar who has led the group’s push to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement and other international climate change accords.

But Pershing said he’ll make the case that the U.S. should be more engaged on climate issues worldwide. 

“I think it creates a global benefit that redounds to Americans’ benefit, as well, because reducing climate change has huge upsides to the United States,” he said. “It’s not that we’re doing it for the rest of the world. It’s at least as much that we’re doing it for ourselves.”