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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.


Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden to sign major climate orders, setting up clash with oil industry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden will sign new executive actions today that provide the clearest signs yet of his climate plans — elevating the issue to a national security priority and kicking off an intense battle with the oil industry.

Driving the news: One move will freeze issuance of new oil-and-gas leases on public lands and waters "to the extent possible," per a White House summary.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Takeaways from Biden's sweeping order on climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's mammoth executive order on climate policy weighs in at over 7,500 words and resists any single narrative, but I've got a few initial takeaways.

Why it matters: The order aims to marshal the entire federal government behind new initiatives, so that means agencies that may not have the muscle memory or expertise of the resource and environmental branches like EPA and DOE.

Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy
Scoop

White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

National Economic Council director Brian Deese speaks during a White House news briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden White House is deploying top officials to get a wide ideological spectrum of lawmakers, governors and mayors on board with the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The broad, choreographed effort shows just how crucially Biden views the stimulus to the nation's recovery and his own political success.