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  • Vada Arbeiter

John Podesta is Named Biden's New Advisor for International Climate Policy

Updated: Jun 8


John Podesta was named President Joe Biden’s senior advisor for international climate policy on January 31, 2024. John Kerry, Biden’s former Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, led U.S. diplomacy in addressing the climate crisis. Kerry worked to ensure U.S. domestic practices were environmentally sound and additionally encouraged the global climate movement. Podesta will succeed Kerry in these roles, handling both domestic and international climate affairs for the U.S


John Kerry’s main role was to lead U.S. diplomacy in addressing the climate crisis. The establishment’s main role is not only to make sure that the U.S. is practicing environmentally sound and conscious actions but also to lead the global movement and encourage global climate ambition.


Podesta has worked towards U.S. climate policy goals for years under several Democratic administrations. He served as President Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff and a climate advisor to President Barack Obama, spearheading the 375 billion dollar U.S. climate program approved in 2022. Podesta is also the founder of the Center for American Progress. This organization concerns itself with researching public policy and advocating with a liberal point of view on social and economic issues


Having formerly worked for President Bill Clinton as a Chief of Staff and as one of President Obama’s Climate advisors, Podesta is no stranger to the realm of politics and is seen as a veteran by many. “Having served the three most recent Democratic presidents over three decades, he is an American statesman, a fierce champion for bold climate action, and a leader who without a doubt the world will know has the trust of and speaks for the president of the United States,” said Jeff Zients, the current White House chief of staff


Podesta’s role reflects Biden’s efforts in promoting U.S. climate initiatives to recognize the sheer gravity of the climate crisis and its relevance for the future. February has presented glaring evidence of global warming, with over 140 countries breaking monthly heat records, an unprecedented situation. According to UniFrog, global carbon dioxide emissions have increased by 50% since 1990


President Biden's central climate policy is the Inflation Reduction Act, the initiatives of which will be continued by Podesta. The largest U.S. investment in climate change ever, the Inflation Reduction Act consists of two main sections: one that addresses the private corporate sector,  incentivizing firms to use more renewable energy, and a second goal that seeks to address the private sector, encouraging households to transform their energy consumption. Members of Biden’s administration maintain that the second initiative will offer consumers large and immediate relief on substantial energy bills. President Biden noted that this bill was far from perfect, “It's a compromise. But it's often how progress is made," Biden said at the White House in June of 2022. Biden's overall message to Congress was that this bill was the strongest bill they could pass


The Inflation Reduction Act has encouraged the conversion of abandoned coal mines to solar panels, a project that would contribute heavily to U.S. renewable energy sources. The Act additionally provides subsidies to private firms to limit their carbon emissions and switch to cleaner energy forms. 


However, recent studies have shown that seven out of ten Americans do not know about the Inflation Reduction Act, which implies that many of them will not consider the bill when voting in the upcoming 2024 election. Many Republicans and Republican states are pushing against the Act, with some citing that gas prices and overall prices of goods have risen


Podesta has continuously emphasized the use of clean energy in his path toward a more sustainable future, promoting the economic benefits of renewable energy in addition to its purpose in fighting the climate crisis Podesta has argued: “Clean energy creates good-paying jobs and fuels economic growth,” by expanding the domestic production base through bolstering energy security by bringing production back to the US, “and confronts the climate crisis by cutting harmful pollution.”


The 2015 Paris Agreement, a global treaty addressing climate change, set a worldwide goal to keep temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius this century. However, the U.S. withdrew from the agreement in 2017 under President Donald Trump, who stated the Paris Agreement’s policy goals would hurt the U.S. economy. John Podesta’s climate initiatives point in the opposite direction. “Secretary Kerry has put the U.S. back in leadership on climate around the world," Podesta told reporters earlier this month, citing just how much Kerry did for climate policy as a whole, “And we’ll ensure that we keep up the momentum that has been built up through his efforts.”


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