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Judith Garber (on right) at a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing in July 2016. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Judith Garber, a career diplomat in an acting position at the State Department, is set to lead the Trump administration's delegation to a meeting this week in Montreal discussing an amendment to the 30-year-old treaty protecting the Earth's ozone layer, according to an administration official.

Why it matters: By not sending a higher level official, it shows the continued low priority the administration places on environmental and climate change issues. Garber, a 30-year career diplomat, also led the administration's delegation to the recent climate talks in Bonn, Germany, after a higher level official bowed out at the last-minute due to a family emergency.

The big picture: The meetings this week in Montreal are about a recent amendment to the Montreal Protocol, a global treaty created 30 years ago to fix the hole in the Earth's ozone layer (and now it's achieving its goal).

World leaders, led by the Obama administration, agreed in October 2016 to the Kigali amendment, which would phase down emissions of powerful greenhouse gases in refrigerants called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are used in many appliances from air conditioners to refrigerators.

What's next: The Trump administration needs to send over to the Senate for official ratification the treaty before the U.S. can be an official party to the amendment. Backers of the effort, which includes chemical companies that make new climate-friendly refrigerants, aren't rushing the effort, given the polarized politics of climate change and the timing so close to the Bonn talks.

Go deeper:

  • Read my two Harder Line columns on this topic: Why industry is backing the policy, and how your air conditioner is caught up in all this.
  • The Montreal treaty doesn't suffer from the same procedural issues as the Paris climate deal does, which increases the chances of it ultimately sticking despite the administration's aversion to climate issues.
  • The amendment is set to go into force (for those that have officially signed onto it) in January 2019, thanks to Sweden just recently signing on and meeting the ratification threshold, per the NYT.

Go deeper

5 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.