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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Joe Biden's team had previously announced that John Kerry will be on the National Security Council as its first dedicated climate official, but hadn't disclosed much about the logistics of the position. We now know a little more about how John Kerry's role as Joe Biden's special climate envoy will work — and the advice is pouring in.

How it works: Kerry's work will be under the purview of the State Department, Biden's transition team confirmed and a Politico piece reported yesterday.

What they're saying: A transition team official notes that Kerry, in his NSC capacity, will be the point person for international climate matters and negotiations.

The aide, who requested anonymity because the new administration hasn't yet begun, tells me: "His role will be fully integrated into the Biden-Harris administration’s broader diplomacy, which as always, will be helmed by the Secretary of State."

  • Politico reports that Kerry will work out of State and that Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken, if confirmed, will be his boss.
  • "Kerry, who last reported directly to the president, will soon find himself working out of the State Department again — but this time, as a subordinate to Blinken, who is 'closer to Biden on foreign policy than anyone else,' as a former Obama NSC official put it," they report.

The intrigue: The Politico story points out that all this will take some figuring out. Biden's team is also expected to name a White House domestic climate policy coordinator this month.

  • The story quotes another former Obama NSC official calling it "an unusual setup."
  • Still, Kerry and Blinken, who was deputy secretary of state under Kerry, are known to have a good relationship.

What we're watching: How Kerry and others in the fledgling administration's foreign policy orbit will try and make good on Biden's pledge to spur more aggressive climate efforts abroad.

  • In particular, on our radar is how the airier vows of "raising ambition" — which we've seen as more countries pledge long-term emissions phaseouts — may start translating into firmer steps.

This new Foreign Policy essay by Jason Bordoff, a former senior Obama aide, said Kerry's stature and high rank in the new White House signals that important policy shifts loom.

Here's a snapshot from Bordoff's piece...

  • On R&D, there's an opening for more multilateral collaboration on innovation in areas like renewables, nuclear power and CO2 capture.
  • "Through its climate diplomacy, the Biden administration can build R&D collaboration with other countries and speed up the development of new technologies by allowing countries with different skills and capabilities to share costs and expertise."

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jan 22, 2021 - World

What has and hasn't changed as Biden takes over U.S. foreign policy

Photo Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden swiftly recommitted the U.S. to the Paris climate pact and the World Health Organization, but America's broader foreign policy is in a state of flux between the Trump and Biden eras.

Driving the news: One of the most striking moves from the Biden administration thus far was a show of continuity — concurring with the Trump administration's last-minute determination that China had committed "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims.

Biden administration unveils plan to combat domestic extremism

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced at a briefing on Friday that the Biden administration will roll out a three-pronged interagency plan to assess and combat the threat posed by domestic violent extremism.

Why it matters: The federal government's approach to domestic extremism has come under scrutiny in the wake of the Jan. 6 attacks on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. In his inaugural address, Biden repudiated political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism, vowing to defeat them.

Biden's centrist words, liberal actions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden talks like a soothing centrist. He promises to govern like a soothing centrist. But early moves show that he is keeping his promise to advance a liberal agenda.

Why it matters: Never before has a president done more by executive fiat in such a short period of time than Biden. And those specific actions, coupled with a push for a more progressive slate of regulators and advisers, look more like the Biden of the Democratic primary than the unity-and-restraint Biden of the general election.