Biden to name Kerry as U.S. climate czar, emphasizing diplomacy's role in the fight

FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks by video feed during the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention as participants from across the country are hosted over video links from the originally planned site of the convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. August 18, 2020. 2020 Democratic National Convention/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team said on Monday former Secretary of State John Kerry will be named climate czar, a sign that Biden views diplomatic skills as vital to the job.

As Biden’s special envoy for climate, Kerry will have a seat on the National Security Council in the White House, marking the first time an official will be dedicated to the issue in that organization, Biden’s transition team said in a statement.

The NSC has played a powerful foreign policy role since it was created in 1947 under President Harry Truman.

Biden has pledged to reverse course on climate from President Donald Trump who doubts mainstream climate science. He yanked the United States out of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate, and dismantled Obama-era climate and environment regulations to boost drilling, mining and manufacturing.

Kerry, 76, called climate change “the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction,” as secretary of state under former President Barack Obama. In travels from glaciers in Greenland to the Solomon Islands, Kerry emphasized cooperation on tackling climate change.

Before the landmark Paris agreement Kerry also pushed for China, the world top greenhouse gas emitter, and the United States, the second-leading polluter, to agree targets on emissions and work toward a global deal.

Kerry, who was also a longtime liberal senator from Massachusetts and 2004 presidential candidate, will likely get a quick start as Biden has pledged to rejoin the Paris agreement soon after he comes to office.

Appointing Kerry as climate envoy “sends the strongest possible signal about the importance of climate action to the incoming administration,” said Paul Bodnar, who was a senior director for energy and climate under Obama.

After leaving government Kerry continued to work on climate change. Late last year, Kerry launched World War Zero, a bipartisan group of world leaders and celebrities to combat climate change.

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