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Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

John Kerry is beginning to signal how he'll approach his new gig as President-elect Joe Biden's special envoy on climate change — including the fraught relationship with China, the world's biggest carbon emitter.

Driving the news: Kerry tells NBC News that he sees an opening to work with China even amid tensions between the countries on trade and other topics.

  • "History is full of opposing nations, nations that are competitors and potentially adversaries coming together around things that are imperative," he said.
  • "We will continue to try to address critical issues between us regarding trade, regarding theft of intellectual property, regarding access to market."
  • And in remarks to NPR, Kerry said he will talk to China about their financing of coal-fired power in other nations, but in a way that "doesn't force people into a corner to hunker down and head towards conflict."

Where it stands: Elsewhere, Kerry tells NPR that he's begun discussions with energy companies, albeit with constraints.

"I'm reaching out to them because I want to hear from them right now. We have to wait till January 20th before we engage substantively promoting any policy," he said.

Go deeper

Jan 21, 2021 - World

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.