Today, a ceremony was held at the US State Department to announce Todd Stern as the Special Envoy for Climate Change (see short bio and video of the event). As we outlined in our transition recommendations, it is crucial that President Obama appoint a climate negotiating team early in his Administration. We also suggested that the Secretary of State should play a stronger role in the negotiations as the top diplomat. As we suggested, appointment of his negotiating team in the first days of his new Administration would signal both his commitment to working to restore America's international leadership on global warming and help to get the US ready for the serious push to get a strong global agreement in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009).
Well...less than one week in office isn't too bad for appointment of the "chief climate negotiator" (in fact that is amazingly fast).
So with the announcement of Todd Stern today as special envoy, the negotiating team is starting to get into place to help work with leaders in Congress and other countries to shape a strong international agreement to address global warming.
This team will have to get up to speed fast, start to reach out to other countries, and begin to flesh out the US positions as the pace of the negotiations are set to pick up speed following the meeting in Poznan, Poland this past December. In just over 60 days, this team will be sitting with other countries at the negotiating table as the next international negotiations will be held the end of March in Bonn, Germany.
At this meeting they will have in front of them a document to begin to focus their attention -- a "convergence, divergence, and options" paper. They won't have to formulate US position on the options in this paper, but it will help focus them on the current state of play in the negotiations. And, they won't have to completely figure out the course of the new agreement on their own as the signs are starting to emerge. Continued...