America Gets Climate Envoy
Hillary Clinton just named Todd Stern to be America's "climate envoy." Stern is a lawyer and Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. He helped negotiate the original Kyoto Protocol agreement during the Clinton Administration.The scope of the "climate envoy" job isn't entirely clear, but we can assume Stern will-at the least-be in charge of representing the U.S. in international climate negotiations (like the especially important ones coming up in Copenhagen in December 2009). Stern seems to have the right sense of urgency:This is no time to indulge in orthodoxies or in the kind of overextended discussion that marked too much of the six-year Kyoto Protocol negotiation. As the United Kingdom's climate envoy, John Ashton, said recently, "We now need to stop talking about talking and start deciding about doing." The next president should approach this issue the way President Franklin Roosevelt approached the Great Depression: in a spirit of restless experimentation.Some people in "green" circles are starting to worry that Stern's job will overlap in a counterproductive way with those of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and "Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change" Carol Browner. From my perspective, three high-level people working on climate change doesn't sound like a confusing surplus, especially given their different backgrounds. At any rate, we certainly didn't get very far with the opposite approach under Bush. Does anybody even know who represented the U.S. in climate negotiations during the Bush Administration?