President Joe Biden on Friday named John Podesta, the influential Democratic executive and adviser, as his top adviser on clean energy innovation — a role in which Podesta will oversee the distribution of nearly $370 billion in climate investments and clean energy included in the landmark package that Democrats signed into law last month.
Podesta will also replace Gina McCarthy as chair of the White House’s National Climate Task Force, which leads the administration’s climate and emissions reduction goals. McCarthy is set to step down as Biden’s top climate adviser on September 16, after nearly two years on the job. McCarthy’s deputy, Ali Zaidi, will succeed her in that role.
The turnaround in White House climate leadership comes just weeks after Democrats — after months of seemingly deadlocked talks — approved a $740 billion reconciliation package. The so-called Inflation Reduction Act includes $369 billion in climate and clean energy spending, the most significant investment the U.S. has ever made to address the growing, devastating effects of climate change.
“The Inflation Reduction Act is the largest step forward for clean energy and climate in history, and it paves the way for additional steps we will take to achieve our clean energy and climate goals,” Biden said in a statement announcing his new climate team.
Biden applauded McCarthy and Zaidi for leading the administration’s climate agenda and said Podesta’s “deep roots in climate and clean energy policy and experience at senior levels of government means we can really hit the ground to take advantage of the huge clean energy opportunity ahead.”
Podesta’s career in Washington spans decades and multiple Democratic administrations and nominations. He served as chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton, was former President Barack Obama’s top climate adviser, and chaired former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. He is also the founder and current board chair of the left-leaning Center for American Progress.
Podesta he said New York Times reporter Lisa Friedman on Friday that working with the Biden administration was “worth coming out of retirement.”
“The transformation of the energy economy is going to be the biggest economic thing happening in this country,” he said. “If people are going to feel this in their daily lives, it will be because they have good jobs, they pay less for energy, they breathe cleaner air and their children have a future that is not troubled. from the threat of climate change”.
The Inflation Reduction Act includes; more than 100 layouts with the goal of curbing planet-warming carbon emissions, jump-starting clean energy jobs and lowering electricity costs. It provides $30 billion in incentives to companies to make solar panels, wind turbines and batteries and process critical minerals. $60 billion to address legacy pollution and invest in low-income communities and communities of color. $27 billion for a so-called “green bank” to boost clean energy and reduce emissions. $10 billion in tax credits to build new cleantech manufacturing facilities. Up to $20 billion in loans to build clean vehicle manufacturing plants. and $500 million in Defense Production Act funds for heat pumps and critical minerals processing.
Three independent analyses were found that the law, signed by Biden in mid-August, could cut US carbon emissions 40% or more below 2005 levels by the end of the decade.
Jamal Raad, co-founder and executive director of the climate group Evergreen Action, said “no one knows how to pull the levers of government better than John Podesta.”
“Great news he’s back to get money out the door to build our clean energy future,” Raad wrote in a post on Twitter.
Environmental groups also praised McCarthy for his contribution to strengthening US climate action. McCarthy, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency under Obama, was tapped as Biden’s climate czar in December 2020. She has played a key role in the Biden administration’s efforts to reverse Trump-era environmental reversals and advance policies to curb of greenhouse gas emissions.
“He has created a model for—and embraced—a whole-of-government approach to climate action, ensuring that climate change is considered in every aspect of governance, from transportation to security to economic opportunity,” said Gene Karpinski, president of The League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement.
Alexander C. Kaufman contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.