Obama's top climate envoy stepping down

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Todd Stern, the diplomat who led President Obama’s efforts in negotiating last year’s Paris climate change agreement, is leaving the administration.

Stern, whose title is special envoy for climate change at the State Department, will leave April 1, after seven years with the administration, Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryEven in defeat, Trump could harm the country irreparably Obama tells Vietnam: Human rights are 'no threat to stability' Global Magnitsky's power to protect MORE announced Monday.

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“For seven years, Todd Stern has helped lead U.S. efforts to address one of the greatest challenges facing the world today, culminating in the historic global climate agreement reached at [the conference] in Paris last year,” Kerry said in a statement.

“I have felt fortunate from day one to have Todd on my team, and we have all benefitted from his mastery of the climate challenge and all of its nuances, his diligence, and his negotiating skills,” he said. “He played an enormous role in achieving so many of our climate milestones, and the tireless work by Todd and his team over many years will benefit future generations in every corner of the globe.”

The Paris deal was the first time that nearly 200 countries, including developing ones, agreed to limit greenhouse gases and fight climate change.

Stern and the Obama administration played a key role in getting developing countries to the table, since they historically feel that richer nations should bear most of the brunt of greenhouse gas cuts.

While most of the work of implementing the climate deal will fall to the next administration, which could be Republican, Stern said he’s confident the United States will meet its stated pledge: cutting greenhouse gases 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025.

“I don’t think any president is going to pull us out of Paris,” he told Politico in a Monday interview. “We would shoot ourselves in the foot if anybody were to try to pull ourselves out of Paris.”

Top White House adviser Brian Deese told Politico that Stern’s “contributions to protect our planet, our health and our national security from the risks posed by climate change will benefit people across the world for decades to come.”

Stern said he hasn’t made final plans for what to do after he leaves the administration, but he hopes to teach at a university.

He has worked in climate diplomacy for nearly two decades and worked at the White House during President Clinton’s administration.

Kerry said Jonathan Pershing, a top climate adviser to Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest MonizThe Trail 2016: Donald and the Supremes Overnight Energy: EPA wants higher ethanol mandate Moniz dismisses Trump’s call to change climate deal MORE, would take Stern’s place as climate envoy.