ILTA Monthly Newsletter

Biden Picks Kerry as Climate Czar, Highlighting Climate as Priority

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President-elect Joe Biden has named Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry as a special presidential envoy for climate. This is the strongest signal yet that Biden plans to make climate change a central issue in his administration.  

Kerry will be the “climate czar” responsible for coordinating a whole-of-government approach to confronting global warming, which Biden has referred to as an “existential threat.”

As Secretary of State under President Obama, Kerry brokered the landmark Paris Climate Accord. His appointment is viewed as an aggressive first move to address that threat. Kerry, a former senator is a seasoned politician who enjoys goodwill on Capitol Hill. He is also trusted by many in the business community.  

Kerry said earlier this year that in addition to rejoining the climate agreement, which Biden has called a priority for his first day in office, the next step is “to lift ambition [to address climate change] significantly, on a global basis.” President Donald Trump pulled America out of the accord.

Biden has proposed a sweeping $2 trillion climate plan that calls for an emissions-free electric grid in 15 years and includes a target of net-zero emissions across the entire economy by 2050. 

Kerry will be a member of Biden’s National Security Council, the first time that council has included a spot dedicated to climate change.

All of this is not enough for more radical members of the Democratic coalition who see Kerry as an establishment figure unlikely to demand the kinds of actions they think are necessary. They see the good will he has built with Congress and the business community as a negative.


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