Dem Strategist Friendly With China To Succeed Kerry as Climate Envoy

Biden climate adviser John Podesta and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in 2014 / Chinese Embassy
January 31, 2024

President Joe Biden on Wednesday appointed a veteran Democratic strategist who has praised China's environmental efforts to succeed John Kerry as the White House's top climate envoy.

John Podesta, who currently oversees the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act climate legislation, will succeed Kerry as the White House's climate czar, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. He will stay in the White House to fulfill his duties rather than move to the State Department, where Kerry serves as the special presidential envoy for climate. When Podesta takes over, the position will be called "senior adviser to the president for international climate policy."

The exact date for Kerry's departure from the role is unclear, though it will likely be in March or April, per the Post. Kerry traveled all over the world encouraging countries to reduce emissions, while Podesta will focus on deploying clean energy domestically.

Before joining the Biden administration in 2022, Podesta worked as President Bill Clinton's chief of staff and was instrumental in brokering President Barack Obama's Paris climate agreement. He served as the chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2016.

China hawks in the Senate such as Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) raised alarm when Podesta first joined the administration in 2022, as the Washington Free Beacon reported at the time. Podesta in 2013 called for Chinese investment in the United States, arguing that there are "great opportunities for Chinese firms to directly invest in this nation, to build American infrastructure, to create American jobs, and generate steady and handsome returns."

Podesta also praised the communist country in 2015 for its efforts to combat climate change, saying that the Chinese "are beginning to do a fair amount."