Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

As of Tuesday morning, we know a lot more about President-elect Joe Biden climate personnel orbit, even as picks for agencies like EPA and DOE are outstanding, so here are a few early conclusions.

Why it matters: They're the highest-level names yet announced who will have a role in what Biden is promising will be a far-reaching climate and energy agenda.

Catch up fast: Biden's team yesterday either announced or sources indicated his choices, which include...

  • Former Secretary of State John Kerry will be his full-time special climate envoy.
  • Biden will select a separate, "high level" White House climate policy coordinator next month.
  • Biden plans nominate former Fed chair Janet Yellen as his Treasury secretary.
  • Antony Blinken will be the nominee for secretary of state.

The big picture: Here are a few takeaways...

1. Biden is sending early signals that climate change is a priority. Kerry is the highest-profile selection yet for his government (h/t NYT on that point). And Biden's team says he'll have influence via a seat on the National Security Council.

  • It's the first time the NSC has had a dedicated climate official, per the transition team.
  • Kerry's role, and news that a separate White House coordinator is en route, shows that Biden is keen to show that he's taking climate seriously.

2. Familiarity and experience is a theme. As we noted in Axios PM yesterday, lots of early picks held senior roles in the Obama administration, such as UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

  • The choices reflect the desire from Bidenworld to bring trusted and familiar voices into his orbit.
  • Kerry and Biden were Senate colleagues for 20+ years, with Kerry assuming the chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee when Biden became vice president.

3. Treasury could become a climate-related job in this administration, and Yellen has long expressed interest in the topic.

  • There's pent-up interest among advocates to see Treasury become more focused on global warming.
  • For instance, check out these recommendations from the Climate 21 Project, a group that includes lots of Obama alums.
  • Yellen is a founding member of Climate Leadership Council that pushes for a carbon tax. And via her work with the Group of 30, she helped launch recommendations in October for policymakers and businesses worldwide.

4. I'm not seeing squabbling yet, so Biden may have threaded the needle. So far it looks like the picks are fine with the left, while providing a path through what's likely to remain a GOP-led Senate. And Kerry's job doesn't require Senate confirmation.

  • Yellen wasn't on the lists of recommended Treasury secretaries circulated by three groups pushing Democrats to move left: Data for Progress and the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats.
  • "After progressives pushed Larry Summers out of the conversation and once it became clear that our options were Lael Brainard and Janet Yellen, the choice was obvious," Data for Progress' Julian Brave NoiseCat tells me.
  • "Yellen — like pretty much every economist — is a bit too focused on a carbon tax, but overall she can be an ally," he adds.

One more Yellen thing: Like many economists, she has long advocated for imposing a price on carbon emissions as a principal climate policy tool.

Yes, but: Carbon taxes or national emissions trading proposals — which would require congressional action — don't have political juice.

  • The left no longer prioritizes taxes or trading, although it's seen as one tool in the toolbox. Plus, there's barely any support among GOP lawmakers.

What we're watching: Keep an eye on what other steps Yellen may take. As I noted above, there's no shortage of advice.

  • For instance, the sustainable investment group Ceres quickly called on Yellen to have the Treasury-led Financial Stability Oversight Council "incorporate climate risk assessment and management across all financial regulatory agencies."
  • One thing to watch is how hard she'd push to have climate-friendly investments in a potential pandemic recovery deal with Congress, which could face heavy pushback from a GOP-led Senate.

Go deeper

Trudeau stresses "disappointment" with Keystone XL in first official call with Biden

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo: DAVE CHAN/AFP via Getty

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday expressed his "disappointment" with President Biden's executive order to rescind permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, in a readout of the president's first official call with a foreign leader.

Why it matters: The prime minister has long backed the pipeline meant to carry crude oil from Alberta to Nebraska. Biden, however, campaigned on the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Biden and Johnson discuss pandemic, NATO and trade in first phone call

Boris Johnson speaks to Joe Biden. Photo: Andrew Parsons/No. 10 Downing Street

President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed on Saturday issues including trade, NATO and the coronavirus pandemic in their first phone call since the U.S. leader's inauguration.

Why it matters: A new trade agreement with the U.S. is a priority for Johnson, whose country completed its economic split with the European Union at the end of last year, AP noted.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.