Former US presidential candidate John Kerry has been named as President-elect Joe Biden’s special presidential envoy for climate change — a role that will include a seat on the National Security Council (NSC).
"This marks the first time that the NSC will include an official dedicated to climate change, reflecting the president-elect’s commitment to addressing climate change as an urgent national security issue," said Biden’s transition team.
His role does not require confirmation by the Senate as he will not be a member of Biden's cabinet. Kerry represented Massachusetts 28 years in the Senate where opposition Republicans may retain a slim majority after the new Congress convenes in January.
Kerry, who lost the 2004 presidential election to George W Bush, was said to have discussed climate change at every international bilateral meeting he held while Secretary of State under President Obama from 2013-17 — and he signed the Paris Agreement, where he oversaw the US negotiating effort, on behalf of America in 2015.
“America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is. I'm proud to partner with the president-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis as the President's Climate Envoy,” Kerry wrote on Twitter.
As Biden's international climate diplomat, Kerry will have a dual brief: reengage the US on global warming and ensure the issue is a core part of its foreign and national security policies.
“Secretary Kerry elevated environmental challenges as diplomatic priorities, from oceans to hydrofluorocarbons,” said the Biden transition team in a statement. “He was a key architect of the Paris Climate Accord, and signed the historic agreement to reduce carbon emissions with his granddaughter on his lap.”
Reports suggest Biden will name a separate White House climate director of equal rank to Kerry to coordinate the administration's climate policies within the federal government.
It's not immediately clear if Biden will try and resurrect the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy created in 2008 by former President Barack Obama through an executive order for that purpose.
After Congress declined funding in 2011, it was eliminated as a standing White
House Office and its work was moved under the umbrella of the Domestic Policy Council, the main forum used by a president for considering domestic policies, excluding economic matters.
Updates Kerry's role does not require Senate confirmation and will focus on reengaging US on climate change globally