Perhaps seeking to enliven the dull confirmation hearings over John Kerry’s nomination to serve as Secretary of State, Politico‘s Darren Samuelsohn and Jonathan Allen have penned a piece about Kerry entitled “Mr. Climate,” and reminding readers that the State Department is one of the check-points for approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Here’s the key graph about Kerry’s background:
Kerry has spent years working on the issue in Congress and around the globe. His name was on the last real climate-change legislation, a Kerry-Lieberman bill that never made it out of the Senate. He’s a regular at international conferences, once flying halfway around the globe to spend a few hours on the ground during U.N.-led talks in Bali, Indonesia. And he, like outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will have the ability to explain the world to the Senate and the Senate to the world.
I can add a bit of personal context about Kerry and climate change, having had the opportunity to assist a bit in his and his wife’s 2008 book on environmental challenges, This Moment on Earth. I sat in on some of the briefings Kerry got (along with then-staffer Heather Zichal, now the president’s chief advisor on climate change) from climate scientists when he was working on the book. The briefings more or less terrified me, but Kerry was calmly inquisitive and thoroughly informed. He’s been involved in global environmental issues for a long, long time. He actually met Teresa Heinz Kerry at a 1970 Earth Day rally, and got to know her after encountering her at Mass (there’s an amusing story about her mistakenly getting the impression her future husband spoke her native Portuguese because he sang hymns in that language pretty well) during the 1992 Rio Summit on sustainable development–you know, the event that spawned the alleged “Agenda 21” conspiracy to place strip-mall developers under the thumb of the United Nations.
I am entirely sure Kerry will do whatever the president asks him to do at State, and he may not have any independent role on climate change policy. But if he does become involved in policymaking on this issue, he will know exactly what he’s talking about.