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Photo: Stephanie Gross for Southern Environmental Law Center

President-elect Joe Biden has selected veteran environmental lawyer Brenda Mallory to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), his transition team announced Thursday.

Why it matters: If confirmed, Mallory would have Biden’s ear as an environmental policy adviser and oversee policy coordination across the federal government. She would also be the first African American to serve in the position.

The big picture: Mallory, currently the director of regulatory policy for the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), has 35 years of experience in environmental law and policy under her belt.

  • She served as general counsel of CEQ under the Obama administration and held leadership positions at the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • At SELC, she has led regulatory policy work at federal and state levels.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Amy Harder: Mallory is the latest sign of how Biden is tapping into Obama-era officials who can hit the ground running on executive-branch policy given the low odds Congress will pursue big climate initiatives.

What they’re saying: “Mallory brings deep and versatile expertise working directly with communities and partners across the public and private sectors to solve climate challenges and advance environmental protection and environmental justice,” the Biden-Harris transition team said in a press release.

  • SELC Executive Director Jeff Gleason said in a statement that “Brenda has the experience, courage, and commitment to address the urgent environmental challenges we face."
  • “She is an exceptional lawyer and leader, and I have no doubt her taking on this role positions us for a better environmental future. SELC’s loss is the country’s gain,” Gleason added.

Go deeper: Biden picks North Carolina environmental regulator Michael Regan to lead EPA

Go deeper

Updated Feb 2, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on corporate America's climate impact

On Tuesday, February 2, Axios' Mike Allen, Ben Geman, and Aja Whitaker-Moore hosted a conversation on corporate America’s climate impact following the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda, featuring Microsoft's Chief Environmental Officer Lucas Joppa and The Rockefeller Foundation President Rajiv Shah.

Rajiv Shah discussed increasing global inequities as a result of the pandemic, and how these economic divides can be crossed with respect to energy and climate change policies.

  • On the growing gap between the world's wealthy and poor: "COVID-19 is an accelerant of that [economic] divergence. We're now living through the greatest divergence we've seen since World War II and the living standards of people and inequality and inequity as a result of that."
  • On how corporate America has stepped up their commitment to climate change initiatives: "It is going to take much more than a series of corporate commitments to get to net neutrality by 2050. And in fact, I'm optimistic because I've seen companies since [the beginning of 2020] do more."

Lucas Joppa unpacked climate change commitments within the private sector, and how companies have the potential to collectively create change.

  • On the progress Microsoft has made around reducing carbon emissions: "A year ago we committed that by 2030, we'd reduce our emissions by half or more and remove the rest. Over the past calendar year...if we keep on track, we'll see us meeting or achieving our commitments."
  • On setting an example as a large company and modeling scalable solutions: "It's incumbent upon [Microsoft] to do more, but it's also incumbent that we do more in a way that makes it easier for everybody to follow. We know with carbon reduction and carbon removal there's a lot of market maturation and a lot of other societal scale changes that need to happen [around it]."

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

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.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.

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