What They’re Saying: President-Elect Biden’s Climate Focused Cabinet

Washington, D.C. – As President-elect Joe Biden announces his chief advisors and Cabinet officials, there is overwhelming consensus from reporters and political leaders that his administration is preparing for climate action to be a top priority.


  • Former Vice President Al Gore: “Ms. McCarthy is uniquely suited for the job” and said her appointment, along with John Kerry’s role as global climate envoy, “affirms that Joe Biden is serious about America leading by example and driving deep reductions in pollution and climate emissions.” [New York Times, 12/15/2020]
  • Senior Climate Campaigner from Greenpeace Lisa Ramsden: Calling [Gina McCarthy] “a seasoned environmental advocate.” “Voters gave Joe Biden a clear mandate to boldly pursue solutions to racial injustice and the climate crisis.” [Bloomberg, 12/15/2020]
  • Climate Activist Bill McKibben: “I think [Gina McCarthy] as climate czar is an inspired choice–she knows bureaucracies, and she knows the issues, and she’s funny and tough and I’m pretty sure she understands we’re out of time. And Ali Zaidi as deputy is no slouch either.” [12/15/2020]
  • Director of Fossil Free Media Jamie Henn: “The next Secretary of Energy has said – We ought to be doing everything we possibly can to keep fossil fuel energy in the ground and developing the renewable side – This is a very good thing.” [12/15/2020]
  • Former Climate Advisor during the Obama Administration and Founder of Center for American Progress John Podesta: “[Pete Buttigieg] will, I think, grasp the challenge of moving the transportation sector toward a net-zero emissions profile by 2050.” [New York Times, 12/15/2020]
  • Former Head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Christy Goldfuss: “Climate inspiration, ambition, and supreme competence are coming to the West Wing, with an extra dose of humor. ⁦@GinaNRDC⁩ ⁦@ali_a_zaidi⁩ are an unstoppable team.”[12/15/2020]
  • Executive Director of Climate Power 2020 Lori Lodes: “This team of outspoken advocates for climate innovation and leadership will be meaningful allies for Biden’s vision of immediate and bold climate action on day one of the new administration.” [E&E News, 12/01/2020]
  • Former United States Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz: “There’s no doubt that Covid is the issue of the moment which has to be addressed right out of the box,” “But we’re going to see climate addressed right out of the box as well.” [New York Times, 11/17/2020]
  • Democrat Senator of New Mexico Tom Udall: “It won’t happen in just one or two agencies,” “It’s going to be a whole government approach.” [New York Times, 11/17/2020]


  • Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at the League of Conservation Voters Tiernan Sittenfeld: “Gina McCarthy and Ali Zaidi are true climate stars, and we’re thrilled about their new positions leading the charge at the White House on climate solutions, clean energy jobs, and environmental justice starting on day one of the Biden-Harris administration.” [Washington Post, 12/15/2020]
  • Former Climate Aide during Clinton Administration Paul Bledsoe: “Taken together, Biden’s picks emphasize economic as well as environmental experience, reflecting the need to jump-start the ailing economy through clean energy and infrastructure investments.” [Bloomberg, 12/15/2020]
  • Political Scientist and Expert on Environmental Policy Dr. Leah Stokes: “National climate adviser: @GinaNRDC, National climate deputy: @ali_a_zaidi, DOE Secretary: @JenGranholm, This would be a DREAM TEAM folks. Very, very exciting.”  [12/15/2020]
  • Harvard University Economist and Former Special Assistant on Energy and Environment Joseph E. Aldy: “Climate change is going to touch every part of our economy, and climate change policy is going to require us to change the way we power and fuel every part of our economy.” [New York Times, 12/11/2020]
  • Managing Director at the Rocky Mountain Institute Paul Bodnar: “The goal here is not to kind of rally the world on the need to address climate change … it’s all about action.” “The to-do list for Kerry is not just a stack of ambitious targets but how to actually transform the global economy fast enough in areas such as the energy sector, the transportation sector and more heavy industries.” [NBC News, 12/09/2020]
  • Former State Department Climate Change Envoy Todd Stern: “[Brian Deese is] a dedicated proponent of ambitious climate action who gets the scale and speed of the net-zero transformation we need.” [New York Times, 12/03/2020]


Bloomberg: Biden Enlists Team of Veteran Leaders to Fight Climate Change

“The personnel choices come as Biden seeks to fulfill campaign promises to decarbonize the electric grid in 15 years, promote electric vehicles and restrict oil development on federal land. The president-elect may have to lean heavily on regulations and executive orders to achieve his goals, with the Republicans set to hold at least 50 seats in the Senate.”

Washington Post: Biden picks former EPA chief Gina McCarthy as White House climate czar

“McCarthy, 66, who spearheaded the Obama administration’s efforts to curb greenhouse gases from power plants and vehicles, will be responsible for implementing Biden’s plan to weave climate policy throughout the federal government as the first-ever “national climate adviser.”She will head the White House White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. Ali Zaidi, 33, New York’s deputy secretary for energy and environment, will be her deputy.”

New York Times: Biden Taps Pete Buttigieg for Transportation Secretary

“The Transportation Department under Mr. Biden is expected to play a newly climate-centric role, particularly because of the agency’s authority to regulate vehicle emissions, the leading source of climate-warming pollution in the United States, to encourage electric vehicles and to provide funding for mass transit.”

New York Times: For Biden’s Economic Team, an Early Focus on Climate

“The video rollouts of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s pick for Treasury secretary, Janet L. Yellen, and National Economic Council director, Brian Deese, began biographically. But they quickly shifted to focus on an issue that could distinguish Mr. Biden’s core economic team from its predecessors: climate change…Both were clear signs that, even as Mr. Biden confronts the immediate task of accelerating the pandemic recovery, he has placed the longer-running climate challenge at the center of his administration’s economic priorities.”

Grist: How Biden’s Treasury secretary pick could shape US climate politics

“Yellen is uniquely qualified to help Biden deliver on his economic agenda, and she has long acknowledged climate change as a risk to global financial stability. She was vocal about that risk when she served as the 18th Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 1999. And she talked about the issue later in her career, as chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, and now as a distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institution.”

New York Times: Biden Plans to Move Fast With a ‘Climate Administration.’ Here’s How.

“President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., eager to elevate climate change issues throughout his administration, is already drafting orders to reduce planet-warming pollution and seeking nominees who will embed climate policy not only in environmental agencies but in departments from Defense to Treasury to Transportation.”

Al Gore, New York Times: Where I Find Hope

“Mr. Biden will take office at a time when humankind faces the choice of life over death. Two years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of severe consequences — coastal inundations and worsening droughts, among other catastrophes — if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.”

E&E News: Biden’s economic team has strong energy, climate ties

“President-elect Joe Biden’s senior economic team includes a carbon tax proponent as well as a senior Obama climate adviser whose support for the Obama administration’s stances on fracking and Arctic drilling has roiled some green groups.”

NBC News: John Kerry aims to strengthen Paris climate accord when Biden administration takes power

“John Kerry wants to strengthen the Paris climate accord, which he helped write, suggesting a pivot for U.S. policy when he becomes the nation’s climate czar in January. “It has to be stronger,” Kerry told NBC’s Geoff Bennett in an exclusive interview Wednesday, stressing that the multinational deal was always intended to be a first step.”

New York Times: Brian Deese, Veteran of Auto Bailout, Will Lead National Economic Council

“The appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation, highlights Mr. Biden’s plans to use economic policy initiatives to drive climate policy. It also defies pre-emptive criticism from some environmental groups, which have targeted Mr. Deese for his work in recent years as the sustainability director for the asset-management giant BlackRock.”

Washington Post: As leaders set fresh climate goals, Biden pledges US support

“U.S. President-elect Joe Biden pledged Saturday to rejoin the Paris climate accord on the first day of his presidency, as world leaders staged a virtual gathering to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the international pact aimed at curbing global warming…Biden reiterated his campaign pledge that his administration will set a target of cutting U.S. emissions to net zero “no later than 2050.” Experts say commitments put forward by the international community in the past five years have already improved the long-term outlook on climate change, making the worst-case scenarios less likely by the end of the century.”

Axios: Breaking down John Kerry’s climate role under Biden

“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.”

New York Times: How Climate Policy Will Change in 2021

“He has reportedly raised the issue of climate in every congratulatory call he has accepted from world leaders, and he has pledged to make climate a focus in every federal agency so that the issue doesn’t end up sidelined in the daily grind of governance… depending on the outcome of the Senate runoff elections in Georgia, Mr. Biden may face a Republican-controlled Senate suspicious of initiatives on clean energy, environmental justice or anything that could conceivably slow business growth.”

Washington Post Editorial Board: Joe Biden must be the climate change president

“The day Joe Biden became president-elect, he listed climate change among his top priorities. Last week, he named former secretary of state John F. Kerry to be his climate czar. It is crucial Mr. Biden and Mr. Kerry follow through. The United States has squandered too much time. The world has almost none left to avoid extreme consequences for generations living and those only just being born.”