UN climate chief seeks Tillerson to keep Paris deal alive

The United Nations’s climate change chief is not taking no for an answer as she travels next week to Washington in the hope of meeting top diplomat Rex Tillerson. So far, no response.

“The process has been difficult for them to get started, so I don’t know if I will be able to see the Secretary of State this time,” Patricia Espinosa told reporters in London. She flies out Sunday.

A State Department spokesman, Noel Clay, said he had nothing to confirm at this time.

The veteran Mexican diplomat is relatively new to the job of implementing a climate agreement that was approved by 195 countries in Paris in December 2015. The problem is that President Donald Trump, sworn in last month, has threatened to pull out of it and without the world’s second-biggest producer of carbon dioxide on board, the accord will be left on life support.

Asked if Trump was still committed to pulling out of the pact, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the president and Tillerson were having a “conversation” on the subject. “I will leave that to Secretary Tillerson,” Spicer said.

Trump has sent mixed signals about global warning, which he once tweeted was a Chinese hoax. He pledged during his campaign to withdraw the U.S. from the UN accord and to support burning coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. Since then, he told the New York Times that he was keeping an “open mind” about the deal.

Tillerson, a former oil executive, made encouraging statements about climate discussions during his confirmation hearings and the U.S. plans to send a normal-sized delegation to the next round of climate talks in May.

“I hope this means they won’t pull out,” said Espinosa.

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