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Gov. Inslee ‘delighted’ by John Kerry’s new climate role

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2020, file photo former Secretary of State John Kerry smiles while speaking at a campaign stop to support Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at the Biden for President Fort Dodge Office in Fort Dodge, Iowa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

President-elect Joe Biden named John Kerry as climate envoy for national security on Monday, and Gov. Inslee said he could “not be more delighted” by the appointment.

After an update on Washington state’s response to COVID-19 on Tuesday, the governor — who also ran for president in 2020 on a climate change platform — said Kerry has been working toward this new role for decades. It was thought that Inslee himself might be offered a similar position within Biden’s cabinet.

Kerry will become the first member of the National Security Council to focus exclusively on climate change.

“The best thing is that by putting a person with this level of commitment … it demonstrates that America is back. And when America is back, we have a better chance at fighting climate change,” Inslee said.

While Inslee isn’t leading the charge, Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold said Biden was clearly paying close attention to the governor’s climate proposals during Inslee’s run for president.

“I think Inslee’s isn’t credited enough with how much he shaped Biden’s thinking,” Fahrenthold said. “I think the offer to (John) Kerry was about Paris. Kerry signed the Paris Agreement and then it was torn away or Donald Trump tried to tear it away. By making Kerry his guy, he’s saying, ‘We’re getting back to this agreement we already signed.’”

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“America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is,” Kerry tweeted on Monday after the announcement. “I’m proud to partner with the President-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis as the President’s Climate Envoy.”

Biden has pledged to get the U.S. back into the Paris climate accord. After 2018 midterm elections in which young progressives like New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez succeeded in pushing climate change toward the front of the U.S. political agenda, Biden in his presidential race promised a $2 trillion plan to overhaul the nation’s transportation and power sectors and buildings to curb fossil fuel emissions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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