One of the Senate's top Democratic stalwarts on climate change is pushing back against Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's proposed move to eliminate the position of climate change envoy.
"Secretary Tillerson must retain this position so that the United States keeps a seat at the table," Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said Tuesday.
Tillerson sent a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday detailing his plan to end to eliminate "special envoy" positions, including the climate post. Markey serves on the Foreign Relations and the Environment and Public Works committees and is co-chairman of the Senate Climate Action Task Force.
"The special envoy for climate change was established to ensure American leadership on climate action and our clean energy future," Markey said. "The elimination of this critical position is just one more example of the Trump administration ceding American climate and clean energy leadership to countries like China and Germany."
Tillerson's letter to cut the envoy positions came as President Trump spoke in detail about how he and Finland will work on environmental issues affecting the Arctic, notably the reduction of "black carbon" that scientists say is exacerbating the effects of climate change in the frozen north.
"If we lose the Arctic, we lose the globe. That is the reality," Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said with Trump standing next to him at a joint press conference Monday.
Trump and Niinisto agreed to work on the issue of black carbon through the Arctic Council, which the State Department takes the lead on in representing the U.S. with other Arctic countries. The U.S. recently ended its chairmanship on the council, ceding leadership to Finland for the next two years.
"We had a very good discussion, in particular on the Arctic and black carbon, and I think we have much in agreement," Trump said at the joint press conference. "One of the things we also agreed on: We want crystal clean water and we want clean air."
Black carbon is another way of describing black soot that accumulates on ice to trap heat from the sun and melt snow and ice more rapidly.
The Finnish president said the sources of black carbon are coming from older energy plants in Russia that don't have strong emission controls. The other source is natural gas flaring in oil fields.
Niinisto said the U.S. will work to cut its contribution of black carbon in half. Trump said nothing, but nodded when Niinisto made the comment.