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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

Updated 10 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

11 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.