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Cedric Richmond and Joe Biden. Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

"U.S. environmental activists are heaping pressure on Democratic president-elect Joe Biden to avoid Cabinet appointees with fossil fuel ties," Reuters points out.

Why it matters: The incoming Biden administration is starting to announce important personnel picks, with Cabinet choices looming, and activists are keen to see advocates of aggressive climate policies.

Driving the news: In one early skirmish, some activists are upset over the selection of Louisiana Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond as senior adviser and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

  • The job, per Politico, involves outreach and collaboration with outside interests including climate advocates.
  • Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash called the selection a "betrayal," citing substantial oil-and-gas industry donations to Richmond during his House careers, among other criticisms.

Quick take: It's the green movement's job to seek allies who have the president's ear and power within the White House. "Personnel is policy," as Sen. Elizabeth Warren likes to say.

  • But come on, man. The (likely) GOP Senate and the judiciary are way bigger checks on Biden's climate ambitions than these staffing decisions.

What we're watching: These battles going forward (if indeed there are more) are likely to show the strategic differences between various parts of the green movement.

  • Groups on the left flank, like Sunrise, 350.org and Greenpeace, won't hesitate to criticize decisions openly, while more establishment groups with stronger ties to the Democratic party prefer to try and exert influence privately.

Where it stands: The New York Times has a look at how the incoming administration hopes to see new climate policies emerge governmentwide, not just environmental and resource agencies.

  • "Biden’s inner circle routinely asks 'is the person climate-ambitious?' of candidates even for lower profile positions like the White House budget and regulatory offices, according to a person advising the transition."

Go deeper

Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy
Scoop

White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

National Economic Council director Brian Deese speaks during a White House news briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden White House is deploying top officials to get a wide ideological spectrum of lawmakers, governors and mayors on board with the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The broad, choreographed effort shows just how crucially Biden views the stimulus to the nation's recovery and his own political success.

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.

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the threat posed by China. But as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.