Joe Biden names key members of climate and energy team

Biden is scheduled to be inaugurated as the 46th US President on January 20. He has vowed to rejoin the Paris climate deal on the first day of his presidency
Last Updated 18 December 2020, 05:44 IST

US President-elect Joe Biden has announced his climate and energy team, which the transition said is ready on day one to advance his agenda and lead the world to confront the undeniable, accelerating, and punishing reality of climate change.

The nominees are Congresswoman Deb Haaland as Secretary of Interior, Jennifer Granholm as Energy Secretary, Michael Regan as administrator for Environmental Protection Agency and Brenda Mallory as Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.

Biden on Thursday also announced the appointment of Gina McCarthy as his National Climate Advisor and Ali Zaidi as his Deputy National Climate Advisor. Zaidi is the highest-ranking Pakistani-American appointed by Biden in his administration.

"This brilliant, tested, trailblazing team will be ready on day one to confront the existential threat of climate change with a unified national response rooted in science and equity. They share my belief that we have no time to waste to confront the climate crisis, protect our air and drinking water, and deliver justice to communities that have long shouldered the burdens of environmental harms,” Biden said in a statement.

“Together, on behalf of all Americans, they will meet this moment with the urgency it demands — and seize the opportunity to build back better with good-paying union jobs, climate-resilient infrastructure and a clean energy future that benefits every single community,” he said.

Biden is scheduled to be inaugurated as the 46th US President on January 20. He has vowed to rejoin the Paris climate deal on the first day of his presidency.

The Trump administration last month formally withdrew from the Paris accord, a decision originally announced three years ago. The deal committed the US and 187 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures below 2C above pre-industrial levels and attempting to limit them even more, to a 1.5C rise.

Trump argues that the agreement is disadvantageous for the US, while it gives benefits to countries like China, Russia and India. According to him, it could be economically detrimental and cost 2.5 million Americans their jobs by 2025.

Observing that the undeniable, accelerating, punishing reality of climate change is exacting an incalculable toll on lives and livelihoods in every community across the country, the transition said. The team knows that science demands they address climate change immediately and that the response must be grounded in science.

The team will turn the climate crisis into an unprecedented opportunity to create millions of good-paying union jobs in communities across the country; powering the economy with clean energy and positioning the US as an exporter of 21st century products; and making the economy stronger and more resilient.

They will work closely with communities who bear the outsized burden of environmental injustice, including Tribal Nations and communities of colour, and young Americans who will live with the long-term consequences of climate change, the transition said.

Haaland is currently serving as Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources. If confirmed, she will make history as the first-ever Native American Cabinet secretary.

Granholm is a two-term Governor of Michigan whose work during and after her tenure has centred on creating clean energy jobs in America. Her leadership was instrumental in rescuing the US auto industry, saving one million jobs, and preparing Detroit for a clean energy future.

Nominated to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Regan is the current Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. He has served in the EPA under both Democratic and Republican presidents and has a distinguished track record of bringing people together across the public, private and non-profit sectors to advance environmental justice and seek solutions to environmental and climate challenges.

An accomplished public servant and environmental lawyer, Mallory is former General Counsel to the Council on Environmental Quality and current Director of Regulatory Policy at the Southern Environmental Law Centre. If confirmed, she would be the first African American to hold the position since its creation more than half a century ago.

McCarthy will serve as the first-ever National Climate Advisor, heading up the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, where she will drive an “all of government” approach to combating climate change.

A leading voice on climate and environmental issues for more than 30 years, McCarthy was a driving force behind the Obama-Biden administration's groundbreaking Clean Power Plan during her tenure as EPA Administrator.

Zaidi, a leading climate expert and longtime advisor to the president-elect, will serve as Deputy National Climate Advisor. He had helped draft and implement the Obama-Biden Administration’s Climate Action Plan and negotiate the Paris accord. Zaidi immigrated from Pakistan and grew up in the Rust Belt outside Erie, Pennsylvania.

“...our climate crisis is a grave and growing threat to the American people and the planet...President-elect Biden and I proposed one of the most ambitious climate plans in history. The team we are announcing today will help make that plan a reality,” Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said.

“They are the team the American people need and deserve to help protect our communities — and our planet — for generations,” she said.

(Published 18 December 2020, 05:09 IST)

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