WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump is reportedly weighing whether to remove the United States from the Paris climate accord, a move most scientists and climate activists believe would be disastrous to the goal of limiting increases in the planet’s temperature through a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
In recent weeks, the president has heard from a diverse coalition of business groups that support remaining in the Paris accord. And the Trump administration also continues to hear from activists who for the past two decades have tried to convince policy-makers to make climate change a top priority.
A large group of climate activists marched on the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning to demand that Trump “wake up” to the perils of climate change and not pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. Organizers behind the Peoples Climate March planned the rally.
“It’s critical for the United States to be in the Paris agreement,” Sebi Medina-Tayac, an organizer of Tuesday’s rally, told ThinkProgress. “We see a situation where we have one highly unstable person who is in charge of the fate of millions, if not billions, of people.”
When organizers were planning the rally, they briefly considered whether they should reach out to the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, to request that she “please help us,” he said. “But then we asked ourselves: Are we really asking the the president’s daughter for mercy?” Instead, Medina-Tayac and his fellow activists opted to take their message to the Trump hotel.
Ivanka Trump was scheduled to meet with Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt on Tuesday to discuss the Paris pact. Ivanka has reportedly been tasked by her father with reviewing U.S. climate policy, though she has no record of publicly speaking out about climate change.
Trump repeatedly promised to “cancel” the agreement during the presidential election campaign. Inside his administration, Steve Bannon, Trump’s top strategist, favors pulling out of Paris, as does Pruitt, who has called it a “bad deal for America.” On the other side, Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, is reported to favor remaining in the deal.
After rallying at the Trump International Hotel, participants marched to the nearby headquarters of the EPA where they urged Pruitt to change his mind on exiting the landmark climate agreement. During his brief tenure at the EPA, though, Pruitt has shown a greater willingness to working with polluting industries to remove regulatory barriers than focusing on protecting the environment.
“It’s obvious this administration is in chaos. These things that we would expect to be empty threats actually have some substance because we have someone making decisions who doesn’t think them through very well,” Medina-Tayac said.
Along with putting pressure on the administration to stay in the Paris agreement, climate activists should be pushing to strengthen the accord, which was criticized by some for not going far enough in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, he said.
Medina-Tayac is a member of the Piscataway Indian Nation from southern Maryland. “My burial grounds are constantly threatened with pollution and with erosion and water level rise, all things associated with climate change. For me, it’s immediately direct to my culture and to my people,” he said.
Climate activists are hoping leaders of other nations will take the lead on fighting climate change. Emmanuel Macron, who won election as France’s new president on Sunday, said his country would continue the climate fight. Macron also invited U.S. climate researchers frustrated by Trump’s agenda to move to France.
“I hope and pray and expect to see leadership come from other countries in the wake of the United States’ reckless consideration to pull out of the Paris agreement,” Medina-Tayac said. “Our cooperation and our participation is critical because a lot of these problems come from the United States.”