Mar 7, 2024 - Energy & Environment

Podesta touts Biden's climate law, lays out COP29 vision

Senior presidential advisor for international climate policy John Podesta speaks during an Axios event on March 6.

Senior presidential adviser for international climate policy John Podesta (left) speaks with Andrew Freedman during an Axios event Wednesday. Photo: Moe Thajib/Axios

John Podesta, President Biden's senior adviser for international climate policy, said he views COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan, as a key follow-up meeting from the global stocktake at COP28 in Dubai late last year.

Why it matters: Countries are facing a 2025 deadline to submit new emissions reduction targets to the United Nations, and Podesta said the U.S. will push countries to be as ambitious as possible.

  • Speaking at an Axios event Wednesday, Podesta said the U.S. is assessing what it can commit to in its next round of pledges.
  • "We're in the process of thinking that through in the U.S., but I think we need to keep pressure on countries to be, in the parlance of the negotiations, 1.5 aligned," he said.
  • Podesta also listed raising more climate finance to help developing countries be resilient in the face of climate change, and to make the energy transition away from fossil fuels as a top priority for the U.S.

What they're saying: Podesta will continue to play a leading role coordinating the rollout and details of Inflation Reduction Act provisions. He views the IRA as durable, even in the event that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump were to be elected to a second term.

  • "The magic of the IRA was the 10 years of certainty that's built into the tax code. That's how people decide to deploy money in a long-term way. In a big way," Podesta said.
  • "I think these tax credits are going to be very hard to rip out of the tax code once they're there. Businesses are relying on them," he said. "It'll be a huge challenge for people who want to reverse course, who want to deny the science, who want to push back, to go in the other direction," he said.

Yes, but: Meanwhile, there is blowback on Capitol Hill to Podesta's new gig. The White House carved it out rather than naming a new special climate envoy to replace John Kerry, whose last day on the job was Wednesday.

  • Any new State Department special envoy appointment now requires Senate confirmation, following enactment of a law in 2021.
  • On Wednesday, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), sent a letter to the White House criticizing the appointment as an end run around Congress, and seeking more details on how Podesta's office is structured.
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