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Kerry named climate envoy

Kerry named climate envoy
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden hugs former Secretary of State John Kerry during a campaign event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S., February 1, 2020. (Reuters)

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WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden named former Secretary of State John Kerry as special climate envoy, his transition team said on Monday, a sign that Biden is putting the issue at the centre of his foreign policy.

Kerry, whose appointment does not require U.S. Senate confirmation, will have a seat on the National Security Council in the White House, the transition team said, marking the first time an official in that body will be dedicated to the climate issue.

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

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

He will face a challenging task gaining the world’s trust after Trump’s rejection of climate diplomacy. As Trump blasted the Paris agreement as being too expensive for Americans, China, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, positioned itself as a catalyst on climate, announcing new targets in September to cut pollution.

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

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