The Problem with Naming Ivanka the “Climate Czar”

How do I find fault with Ivanka’s environmental lobbying? Oh, let me count the ways. As Ivanka Trump concluded a joint meeting with Al Gore to discuss climate change, the implications of the First Daughter Elect’s activism are another in a string of troublesome signs that a Trump administration will promote backwards views on domestic and foreign policy.

For starters, and let’s make no bones about this, Ivanka Trump is poised to become the most influential First Daughter in a hundred years — if not ever. Former VP Gore praised his meeting with Ms Trump as a “very intelligent exchange”, which points to Ivanka’s passion for environmentalism — and her savviness to champion an issue that is trendy among younger voters and less divisive than ethnic tension.

Still, Ivanka’s new role smacks of nepotism. It conjures up an image of a five-year-old asking, “Daddy, please can I have a play date with Al Gore? Please, can I be the new climate czar?” It’s a somewhat sexist image until you realize how big a role Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, has garnered as one of the President-elect’s top advisors.

Equal opportunity nepotism aside, Ivanka Trump’s climate advocacy points to trouble ahead for domestic policy in the US. It is yet another in a string of signs that the Trump administration prioritizes the interests of … the Trump administration. Which is effectively the Trump family. That Ivanka Trump champions trendy, more liberal causes may be a relief to some — until you consider what a wonderful distraction it is from Donald Trump’s Twitter antics, bigoted rhetoric, and loose canon approach to foreign policy. Trump will inevitably get into diplomatic hot water. When that happens, how many of us will say, “Sure, he inspired a rise in hate crimes against Muslims. But at least his environmental policy is solid!” ?

And third, we must shift our gaze outward and zoom out to examine foreign policy. “Climate Czar”, a term that popped up in POLITICO, would indicate that Ivanka Trump is an authority or expert in a particular field, in this case, environmentalism. As VICE pointed out this morning, “the only time Ivanka spoke publicly about climate change was [in a] tweet from 2010”.

Simultaneously, on the other side of the Berlin Wall, an actual “climate czar” might have a work or two to say about this. Vladimir Putin is quite possibly the only person outside the rust belt to be this thrilled about a Trump presidency. The day after Election Day, “ London-traded shares in gas giant Gazprom rose 4.6%” — as did the price of shares for other Russian state-owned enterprises that deal in natural resources. Foreign investment in Russia dwindled after President Obama imposed sanctions on the Kremlin in response to Russian military aggression in Ukraine. The European has imposed its own sanctions since 2014.

For the Kremlin, then, Donald Trump’s election is excellent news — bringing hope that the businessman President elect would lift those sanctions. Let’s be honest with ourselves: if Vladimir Putin can’t be climate czar, the only person he would relinquish that crown to would be a member of the Trump family. At best, Ivanka Trump’s environmental advocacy will be limited to innocuous tweets and shareable content on social networks. Maybe she’ll plant a tree or name a park after her father. More likely, if her activism is in earnest, Ivanka Trump will only open the door to conversations with Putin — and it won’t be the whales who profit.