US Climate Negotiator Back For More: Sue Biniaz

Art: Annabel Driussi for Our Daily Planet

As Former Secretary of State John Kerry looked to assemble an all-star team to support him in his new Climate Special Envoy role, there was one person he wanted by his side — Sue Biniaz.  The Former Deputy Legal Adviser at the State Department, who left the agency after the Trump administration took office, knows the Paris Agreement inside and out. She spent 30 years at State and was its lead climate lawyer, playing a central role in all major international climate negotiations.

But her experience goes beyond climate change, to the ocean, human rights, and law enforcement. She will need to draw on all that to help both raise U.S. national ambitions and provide pathways for private and government funding for the gamut of mitigation needed — be it high tech renewable energy or nature-based.

While she may not be as well known by the general public as her boss, she is admired and respected among her peers at the climate COPs.  Even after she left the U.S. government, her expertise was highly sought after by the U.N. Foundation, where she wrote and advised on how to keep the agreement’s implementation progressing and particularly on how to bring ocean-based solutions into the ongoing negotiations.  Now back and fully engaged for the Biden administration, there is no doubt that the U.S. has a strong negotiator who will serve both the U.S. and the planet well.  There are plenty of other women also looking to play a role, and Sue is sure to make room for them at the table.

To Go Deeper: Listen to this Podcast with Sue on what to expect at the upcoming COP.

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