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Biden's new climate envoy is John Podesta. He has a big domestic climate job too

John Podesta looks on during a meeting between President Biden and mayors at the White House on Jan. 19, 2024.
Brendan Smialowski
AFP via Getty Images
John Podesta looks on during a meeting between President Biden and mayors at the White House on Jan. 19, 2024.

President Biden will turn to longtime Democratic strategist and climate aide John Podesta to handle international climate policy after climate envoy John Kerry steps down from the job in coming weeks, the White House said on Wednesday.

Podesta has worked in the Biden White House since Sept. 2022, overseeing the implementation of the climate incentives and funding in the $369 billion Inflation Reduction Act.

He will continue to lead the rollout of the landmark climate law even as he takes the reins on international climate talks from Kerry, who was an outsized figure on the world stage as a former secretary of state, senator and presidential candidate.

Podesta is well-known in Washington and Democratic circles as a chief of staff for former President Bill Clinton and a climate adviser to former President Barack Obama. He was chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2016.

"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," White House chief of staff Jeff Zients said in a statement.

Biden came to office pledging to make curbing climate one of his top priorities. Earlier this year, he faced backlash — particularly from young voters — for approving a large drilling project, known as Willow, in Alaska. Polling shows many young voters are not aware of the climate incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act.

But as he heads into his reelection race, his administration won praise last week from climate groups for a decision to pause approvals for new exports of liquified natural gas where Biden explicitly nodded to "the calls of young people" to take more climate action.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.