Former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday designated former Secretary of State John Kerry to be the "climate envoy" in a Biden-Harris administration. Biden's transition team pledged to elevate the position to the National Security Council, a move that pleased climate activists and progressive groups.
Kerry will be Biden's Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, guiding the federal government's climate policies. The Biden campaign introduced a $2 trillion climate plan that called for reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Presumably, Kerry will be responsible for coordinating multiple federal agencies to implement policies to achieve that goal. His role will not require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
"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," the Biden transition team said in a statement.
"America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is," Kerry tweeted after the announcement. "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."
Biden's transition team touted Kerry's foreign policy experience in a news release, noting his influential role in crafting the Paris climate accord.
"Secretary Kerry elevated environmental challenges as diplomatic priorities, from oceans to hydrofluorocarbons. 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," Biden's team said.
Biden has pledged to rejoin the Paris climate agreement on his first day as president, reversing one of President Donald Trump's most significant policy accomplishments.
Progressive activists praised the announcement as evidence of Biden's seriousness when it comes to climate issues.
"This is that signal we have been looking for," Nat Keohane, senior vice president at the Environmental Defense Fund, told the Washington Examiner. "It'd be hard to think of a better person for this role or a clearer signal that the U.S. will reengage on climate globally and make it a central aspect of all parts of foreign policy and national security policy. Kerry brings weight, gravitas, and experience."
"Excellent news," tweeted Fred Krupp, the president of the Environmental Defense Fund. "[John Kerry] is one of the world's most effective climate champions, both in the U.S. and abroad. He is the ideal person to restore U.S. global climate leadership."
Environmental activist group Greenpeace praised Kerry's appointment as a "good first step" and a "positive sign for Biden's intention to integrate climate leadership into every facet of the administration."
The Sunrise Movement, another activist group, called Kerry's appointment an "encouraging sign."
In statements, Greenpeace calls John Kerry’s appointment as special Presidential Envoy on Climate a “good first ste… https://t.co/BQHjmviaLN— Gary Grumbach (@Gary Grumbach) 1606158396.0
Kerry's appointment was announced alongside several other nominees and appointees for key national security roles in a Biden-Harris administration, including former Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken as the nominee to be the next secretary of state.