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Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's top trade negotiator is pledging to employ trade policy levers to fight climate change and ecological degradation, warning of a "closing window to prevent a catastrophic environmental chain reaction."

Why it matters: U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Thursday made climate change the focus of her first speech in the role. The decision underscores how the White House hopes to marshal a wide-ranging, government-wide approach to the topic.

The big picture: "For too long, the traditional trade community has resisted the view that trade policy is a legitimate tool in helping to solve the climate crisis," she said at an event hosted by the liberal Center for American Progress.

What's next: Tai pledged robust enforcement of environmental provisions — including anti-deforestation measures — in the existing U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and other trade pacts too.

  • More broadly, she said that "developing innovative environmental technologies, goods, and services and cultivating strategic international supply chains for trade will be key."

Yes, but: She acknowledged key barriers. Tai called the USMCA's lack of explicit climate provisions a "glaring omission."

  • And she said WTO rules create headwinds, arguing "the multilateral trading system has no rules to address the corporate incentive to participate in the race to the bottom."
  • The New York Times has more.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 15, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Senate Democrats float climate diplomacy plan ahead of White House summit

Sen. Bob Menendez. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Senior Senate Democrats will introduce legislation on Thursday designed to make climate change a pillar of U.S. diplomacy, boosting initiatives to help other nations cut emissions and adapt to a warming world, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The bill, led by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), aims to put momentum on Capitol Hill behind President Biden's efforts.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 15, 2021 - Technology

Apple launches $200M "Restore Fund" to target carbon removal

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Apple on Thursday announced it's launching a $200 million "Restore Fund" that will "make investments in forestry projects to remove carbon from the atmosphere while generating a financial return for investors."

Why it matters: The move is the latest step by the world's largest tech companies to invest in climate initiatives, including a number of efforts to finance technologies and methods to not only cut emissions, but remove atmospheric CO2.

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID-19 complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.