President Joe Biden Friday named John Podesta, the influential Democratic associate and adviser, his senior adviser on clean energy innovation — a role in which Podesta will oversee the distribution of the nearly $370 billion in climate and environmental investments. clean energy included in the groundbreaking package that Democrats passed into law last month.
Podesta will also replace Gina McCarthy as chair of the White House’s National Climate Task Force, which spearheads the government’s climate and emissions reduction goals. McCarthy will step down as Biden’s top adviser on the domestic climate on September 16, after serving nearly two years. McCarthy’s deputy, Ali Zaidi, will succeed her in that role.
The climate leadership turmoil in the White House comes just weeks after Democrats — after months of seemingly dead ends — passed a scaled-down $740 billion reconciliation package. The so-called Inflation Reduction Act includes $369 billion in climate and clean energy spending, the most significant investment the US has ever made to address the mounting, catastrophic effects of climate change.
“The Inflation Reduction Act is the biggest clean energy and climate step in history, and it paves the way for additional steps we will take to meet our clean energy and climate goals,” Biden said in a statement. a statement announcing his new climate team.
Biden praised McCarthy and Zaidi for leading the government’s climate agenda, saying that Podesta’s “deep roots in climate and clean energy policy and his experience at higher levels of government mean we can really take off to capitalize on the huge opportunity.” on clean energy for us.”
Podesta’s career in Washington spans decades and multiple Democratic administrations and candidacy. He was the chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton, was a top climate adviser to former President Barack Obama, and chaired former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. He is also the founder and current board chairman of the left-wing Center. for American progress.
Podesta told New York Times reporter Lisa Friedman said Friday the job with the Biden administration was “worth retiring.”
“The transformation of the energy economy will be the most important thing happening in this country economically,” he said. “If people start to feel this in their daily lives, it will be because they have a good job, pay less for energy, breathe cleaner air and their children have a future that hasn’t been destroyed. by the threat of climate change.”
The Inflation Reduction Act includes: more than 100 provisions aimed at reducing global warming CO2 emissions, kick-starting clean energy jobs and lowering electricity costs. It provides $30 billion in incentives for companies to manufacture solar panels, wind turbines and batteries and process critical minerals; $60 billion to address past pollution and invest in low-income and communities of color; $27 billion for a so-called “green bank” to boost clean energy and reduce emissions; $10 billion in tax credits to build new clean technology manufacturing facilities; up to $20 billion in loans to build clean car factories; and $500 million in Defense Production Act funds for heat pumps and critical mineral processing.
Three independent analyses found it that the bill, which Biden signed in mid-August, could cut U.S. carbon emissions by 40% or more below 2005 levels by the end of the decade.
Jamal Raad, co-founder and executive director of the climate group Evergreen Action, said, “Nobody knows better how to pull the levers of government than John Podesta.”
“Great news that he is going back in to get money out the door to build our clean energy future,” Raad wrote in a message on Twitter.
Environmental groups also praised McCarthy for helping drive U.S. climate action. McCarthy, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency under Obama, was appointed as Biden’s domestic climate czar in December 2020. She played a key role in the Biden administration’s efforts to reverse Trump-era environmental policies and promote policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
“She has created a model for and embraced a government-wide approach to climate action, to ensure that climate change is included in every aspect of governance, ranging from transportation to security to economic opportunity,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the League. of Conservation Voters, said in a statement.
Alexander C. Kaufman contributed to this report.