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Joe Biden building team of ‘climate activists’ as president-elect prepares US to re-join Paris accord | Climate News

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America’s next president Joe Biden has spent the period since being elected building a cabinet of “climate activists”, according to a former White House chief of staff.

John Podesta was chief of staff to President Bill Clinton from 1998 to 2001 and served as counsellor to President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2015.

He said: “He’s spent the time of transition building a team of climate champions across the government.

“He’s campaigned on the idea that it requires the whole of government to attack the climate problem – it’s not the province of one single agency or one single individual.”

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John Podesta said tackling the climate would take the ‘whole government’. File image

Mr Podesta added: “It’s going to take the entire government working with the private sector and the non-governmental sector to attack this problem and get the United States on track to a net-zero economy by 2050.

“He’s put extraordinarily talented and experienced people in the cabinet who are incredible activists and have an in-depth knowledge and a seriousness of purpose.”

Britain’s former foreign secretary and former environment secretary David Miliband has warned Mr Biden must “walk the walk” after making bold pledges during his campaign.

Mr Miliband, who is now president and chief executive of the International Rescue Committee, said: “Joe Biden has to get the US domestic house back in order.

“As long as the US is flouting commitments in respect of greenhouse gas emissions reduction, it’s going to make the global politics 10 times more difficult.

“He’s got to set the US back on a path of radical domestic emission reduction.

“If he does that, then the second most important thing is to embrace the international agenda, but if you’re not walking the walk domestically then you can’t talk the talk globally.”

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All nations must declare a ‘climate emergency’

Mr Miliband pointed to the net-zero commitments made by China – the world’s worst polluter – as recognition of the strategic imperative of tackling climate change.

He said: “The fact that China is seeing the strategic imperative of addressing the climate crisis in the 21st century, means that climate has well and truly graduated as being part of the hard end of global politics.

“I think that can only be a good thing.”

World leaders including Mr Obama signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, which pledged to try to keep global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels and “well below” 2C.

Mr Biden has said he will re-join the accord – which Donald Trump pulled America out of – on the first day of his presidency.

That is expected to trigger a 30-day requirement for the US to then come forward with what is known as its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – its pledge to reduce carbon emissions.

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It’s thought America’s new NDC will be consistent with an expected pledge to get to net zero emissions by 2050.

The UK announced its NDC in December, promising to reduce its emissions by 68% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Mr Biden is likely to set a clean energy goal by 2035 and in February set a budget that makes a down payment on that.

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