Climate Change Envoy Todd Stern

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Todd Stern.

On the heels of President Obama's announcement that he would ask the EPA to reconsider applications from 14 states attempting to set stricter greenhouse gas-emissions standards, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named another member to what some have recently dubbed Obama's green team. Todd Stern, a longtime friend and adviser to both Hillary and former President Bill Clinton, has held positions in government and in private law practices where he has advised on issues ranging from global warming to anti-money laundering methods. Many see his appointment as further evidence that the Obama Administration is serious about addressing the issue of climate change.

Fast Facts

•Born May 4, 1951 to Judith and Richard Stern of Chicago, he went on to receive a bachelors in 1973 from Dartmouth (where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa) and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School in 1977. He married Jennifer Klein on Sept. 10, 1995.

•After completing his law degree, Stern served as an attorney for the Legal Aid Society for two years, followed by more than a decade working for private firms

•In 1990, he became senior counsel to Senator Patrick Leahy on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he advised Leahy on intellectual property, telecommunications and constitutional issues.

•Worked on Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, and later became Clinton's deputy staff secretary. In 1995 he was promoted to staff secretary and assistant to the president. As secretary, he played a central role in preparing presentations on key domestic, economic and national security issues for the President's decision.

•Was the senior White House negotiator at the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, which called for the stabilization of greenhouse gas emissions.

•Served a three-year stint at the Treasury Department from 1999 to 2001, where he advised the Secretary on the policy and politics of a broad range of economic and financial issues and supervised the Treasury's anti-money laundering strategy.

•As an adviser to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, he counseled on issues pertaining to the environment and global warming.

•As a member of the Obama-Biden transition team, helped negotiate the terms on which former President Bill Clinton agreed to disclose the names of 200,000 donors to his charitable foundation in order to clear the way for Hillary's nomination as Secretary of State.

•Currently a senior fellow at the think tank Center for American Progress, where he focuses on climate change and environmental issues. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a vice chair of public policy for the law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

(Read "Obama's Move on Fuel Efficiency: A Sweet Win for Greens")

Quotes From

•"The problem is that if we do any kind of report & fail to address these Qs, press jumps on you wanting to know answers; while if you give answers that aren't fully honest (e.g. nothing re Hillary) you risk hugely compounding the problem by getting caught in half-truths. You run risk of turning this into 'cover-up.' " — from a note that Stern wrote regarding the firing of the White House travel office staff, allegedly at the request of then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. Some people claimed that the employees were fired so that Hillary could appoint friends. (New York Times, January 5, 1996)

•"Evaporation and rainfall are increasing; glaciers are retreating; sea ice is shrinking; sea level is rising; permafrost is melting; wildfires are increasing; storm and flood damage is soaring. The canary in the coal mine is singing for all she's worth." — on reading the signs of climate change (Center for American Progress, May 28, 2004)

•"I think the Republicans should nominate [Colorado Rep.] Tom Tancredo." — as an adviser to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, joking that global warming would fare better as a 2008 campaign issue if the GOP picked a candidate skeptical on the science. Tancredo had recently told the Associated Press that the last work of fiction he read was An Inconvenient Truth by former Vice President Al Gore (Environment & Energy News PM, May 22, 2007)

•"The time for denial, delay and dispute is over." — at a news conference announcing his appointment (Washington Post, January 26, 2009)

Quotes About

•The models are not even close in suggesting Kyoto was the right approach." — former President George W. Bush's economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, dismissing Stern's work after Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol (USA Today, June 11, 2001)

•"This is another indication that President Obama is taking the issue of climate crisis seriously across the administration." — a Democratic official on the naming of Stern as climate change envoy (Politico, January 26, 2009)

•"Today marks a new chapter in U.S. climate diplomacy. ... Todd Stern is first-rate — brilliant, with long experience and deep expertise on climate change. — David Sandalow, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of Freedom From Oil, following Stern's appointment (Washington Post, January 26, 2009)

•"If Stern can't bring China along — and that will undoubtedly be one of his prime responsibilities — we're never going to reduce worldwide emissions enough to stave off that 5 to 7 degrees Celsius warming we're facing." — Ezra Klein, associate editor for The American Prospect, on the work Stern has ahead of him. (, January 26, 2009)

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