Dec 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Progressives want empowered domestic climate czar

John Kerry speaks after Joe Biden appointed him as his international climate czar.

John Kerry speaks last month after Joe Biden appointed him as his international climate czar. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Progressives are demanding Joe Biden's domestic climate policy czar, who he is expected to name this week, have "direct access to the president" and "wide-reaching power," according to a memo to Biden transition officials obtained by Axios. 

Why it matters: After focusing on personnel and policy, progressives are pivoting to focus on other ways to wield power with the Biden-Harris administration — including spelling out explicit demands.

Driving the news: Sunrise Movement, the activist climate group, first offered this guideline to the Biden transition team in late November, but continues to press them on the issue.

  • The top responsibility they advocate for in the description is that this person has "direct access to the President," highlighting the seniority progressives want associated with this position. 
  • And they expect this climate official to "wield considerable influence in decision-making across policy, budget-setting, and program implementation across all departments and agencies."

The backdrop: John Kerry was previously announced as Biden's special climate envoy, focusing on international climate matters as a member of the National Security Council.

  • The assistant to the president for climate mobilization is expected to act as Kerry's domestic counterpart.

Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is a leading candidate for this domestic climate role, multiple people familiar tell Axios.

Read the memo.

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