Stern Appointed Climate Change Envoy
By Garance Franke-Ruta
In the June 2007 issue of the American Interest, Washington lawyer Todd Stern and think tank executive William Antholis wrote a memo to the next president. Addressed from the "United States Department of Brainstorms" to "The 44th President of the United States," the action memorandum laid out the case for "creating the E-8" -- a novel international group uniting leading developed nations and developing ones for an annual gathering focused on combating global warming.
Now, as Al Kamen noted this morning, Stern will be in a position to write memos to the president for real. This morning, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that Stern will be the special envoy for climate change.
"With the appointment today of a special envoy, we are sending an unequivocal message that the United States will be energetic, focused, strategic and serious about addressing global climate change and the corollary issue of clean energy," Clinton said at the announcement.
Stern will be the administration's chief climate negotiator, leading talks at the United Nations climate conferences and smaller sessions.
"Containing climate change will require nothing less than transforming the global economy from a high-carbon to a low-carbon energy base. But done right, this can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and become a driver for economic growth in the 21st century," Stern said after Clinton spoke.
"President Obama and Secretary Clinton have left no doubt that a new day is dawning in the U.S. approach to climate change and clean energy. The time for denial, delay and dispute is over," he continued.
Most recently, Todd Stern was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a partner at WilmerHale, the law firm, where he was vice chairman of the Public Policy and Strategy Group.
He was assistant to the president and staff secretary in the White House from 1993 to 1998, and coordinated the Clinton administration's Initiative on Global Climate Change from 1997 to 1999 -- in which role he acted as the senior White House negotiator at the Kyoto and Buenos Aires climate talks.
David Sandalow, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of "Freedom From Oil," greeted the news of Stern's elevation with enthusiasm: "Today marks a new chapter in U.S. climate diplomacy. The appointment of a special climate envoy underscores the high priority President Obama and Secretary Clinton give this issue. Todd Stern is first-rate -- brilliant, with long experience and deep expertise on climate change."
Posted at 2:25 PM ET on Jan 26, 2009
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