Joe Biden has selected John Kerry — old foghorn himself — to be “climate czar”, as some accounts label the job, or “climate envoy”, as other accounts call it. I don’t think the climate will heed a czar. I’m not sure it will even accept an envoy.
However, the actual job is perfect for Kerry at one level. As Kevin Williamson says, naming Kerry as the climate envoy is “a cheap way to buy off the greens while giving an old Senate ally what he wants most: a chance to feel important.”
However, as Steve said yesterday, selecting Kerry all but guarantees that nothing will get done. Williamson makes the same point:
Kerry’s approach to climate is, essentially, a foreign-policy approach, to “work with our allies and partners, alongside rising young leaders in the climate movement,” i.e., he’ll attend a lot of conferences and get his picture taken with Greta Thunberg. But if the Biden administration wants to do something meaningful on climate on the world stage, it is going to have to do something in Washington, because any meaningful commitment would require a treaty with Senate confirmation and wide buy-in. The failure of the Paris Agreement should make that much plain.
The consensus to get that done does not currently exist, and John Kerry is the wrong man — maybe the wrongest man — to try to forge such a consensus. Biden would have got a lot further with someone like James Baker or Christine Todd Whitman.
Somehow, the earth will have to survive the inaction that the selection of Kerry portends. I predict that it will.