President-Elect Biden’s Economic Team Shows the Administration’s Climate Ambition

Washington, D.C. — Today, President-elect Joe Biden announced a slate of senior economic advisors with strong climate credentials, underscoring his continued focus on the crisis and the administration’s government-wide approach to climate action.

The nomination of Janet Yellen as Secretary of the Treasury, Neera Tanden to direct the Office of Management and Budget, and appointments of Brian Deese as head of the National Economic Council and Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey as members of the Council of Economic Advisers, along with additional climate advocates, is one of the strongest signals to date that Biden’s White House will intently focus on building a clean energy economy. 

Biden has repeatedly elevated climate change as a top-tier challenge for the country while emphasizing that his administration’s bold climate ambition will touch all aspects of government, from national security and foreign relations to economic policy and racial justice.

“Janet Yellen, Brian Deese, and the team of climate-focused economic advisors understand that the strongest way to rebuild the American economy is to invest in green infrastructure that creates good-paying union clean energy jobs. President-elect Joe Biden has committed to a government-wide strategy to combat the climate crisis — a plan that must start with investing in clean, renewable energy so we can put people back to work,” said Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power 2020. “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.”

Yellen describes climate change as an urgent problem and has expressed hope that climate action can foster innovation and be a “productivity game-changer.” She served as a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers when the United States signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 during the Clinton White House. In recent years, she joined the Climate Leadership Council, a bipartisan collective that promotes a carbon dividends framework as the most effective way to tackle greenhouse emissions.

If confirmed, Yellen will be the first woman to lead the Department of Treasury. She served as Chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018. 

Equally critical to the fight against climate change is the nomination of Deese, a senior advisor to President Barack Obama on climate, to head the National Economic Council. Deese helped shape the Paris climate agreement — the most ambitious global climate proposal to date — and has long been an outspoken advocate for bold climate action. 

The announcement of these climate champions to the economic council follows last week’s news that the leaders of Biden’s national security team are climate-focused advocates, including John Kerry who will serve as a czar on the intersection of climate change and national security. Biden is expected to announce a domestic counterpart of Kerry in the coming weeks. 

Biden additionally named the following climate advocates to his economic leadership team:

  • Adewale Adeyemo, as deputy Treasury Secretary. Adeyemo is the Obama Foundation president and a former Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs in the Obama Administration.
  • Neera Tanden, as White House budget director. Tanden is the President and CEO of the Center for American Progress and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and an advocate for climate change to be at the forefront of policy discussions.
  • Cecilia Rouse, as head of the Council of Economic Advisers. Rouse is a former member of the Council of Economic Advisers from 2009 to 2011 and a former member of the National Economic Council from 1998 to 1999. She is an advocate for climate change solutions and the role of environmental issues in the U.S. economy and labor.
  • Jared Bernstein, as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers. Bernstein is the former Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden in the Obama Administration. He is a vocal advocate of climate change’s effects on the U.S. economy and embracing progressive policies to tackle the crisis.
  • Heather Boushey, as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers. Boushey is President & CEO and co-founder of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and an advocate for mitigating climate change as one way to tackle inequality in the United States.