OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Countries roll out 2030 Paris Accord goals amid US absence | Biden eyes new EPA picks as Nichols reportedly falls from favor | Kerry faces big job on climate, US credibility

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Countries roll out 2030 Paris Accord goals amid US absence | Biden eyes new EPA picks as Nichols reportedly falls from favor | Kerry faces big job on climate, US credibility
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SQUAD GOALS: China, the United Kingdom and the European Union all laid out goals to achieve greater emission reductions as part of the Paris climate accord over the weekend at what was likely the last United Nations climate summit without a U.S. presence.

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The three powers all vowed to make greater emissions reductions by 2030 during the summit, which marked the fifth anniversary of the global climate accord.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to make the nation the “Saudi Arabia of wind power” as part of its goal to cut its emissions by 68 percent by 2030.

The European Union laid out its vision for reducing emissions by 50 percent by the same year.

China, which has been frequently criticized by Republicans in particular for not doing more on climate change, promised to reduce its carbon emissions by 65 percent relative to its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030. 

“In meeting the climate challenge, no one can be aloof and unilateralism will get us nowhere,” President Xi Jinping told the conference by video.

And what’s the U.S. up to?

President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE withdrew the U.S. from the Paris accord, but President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE has promised to bring the U.S. back to the agreement.

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In a statement, Biden reiterated his promise to join the agreement on Day 1 of his presidency. His climate plan would put the U.S on track to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 

“I’ll immediately start working with my counterparts around the world to do all that we possibly can, including by convening the leaders of major economies for a climate summit within my first 100 days in office,” he said.

At home, some Trump administration officials bashed the deal.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels Former EPA chief to chair pro-Trump think tank's environmental center Lobbying world MORE noted the U.S. “didn’t receive an invitation to the U.N. climate summit” after Trump formally left the accord this November and boasted of U.S emissions reductions.

“Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord would be a disaster and put us at a strategic disadvantage — especially with China who emits far more greenhouse gases and isn’t required to reduce its emissions until at least 2030,” Wheeler wrote on Twitter. 

Read more about the summit here and here

OPENING UP THE CABINET:

Thank u, next...The Biden team is hunting for a nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after some groups expressed opposition to a favorite to get the nod, California air regulator Mary NicholsMary NicholsThe Hill's Sustainability Report: After massive Haiti earthquake, thousands await medical care With climate team taking shape, Biden weighs picks for EPA, Interior OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden reportedly selects Granholm as energy secretary | Trump administration narrows protection of habitat for endangered species | Administration rolls back efficiency standards for showerheads, washers and dryers MORE

According to a report from The New York Times, Nichols has fallen out of favor with the transition team following a letter from a coalition of 70 environmental and social justice groups that criticized her for not doing enough to mitigate pollution impacts for low-income communities and communities of color.

The letter, sent earlier this month, said Nichols had a “bleak track record in addressing environmental racism.”

Multiple media outlets have reported a growing list of the potential future EPA administrators, including Michael Regan, currently the head of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, and Richard Revesz, a professor and former dean at New York University School of Law. 

Regan also previously worked at EPA under the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations before heading to the Environmental Defense Fund as their southeast regional director.

Revesz is an expert in environmental and regulatory law — something that could be key for an administration determined to reverse Trump-era environmental rollbacks. 

The transition team did not respond to request for comment nor did the California Air Resources Board, where Nichols’ term expires at the end of the year.

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Nichols has often been called the Queen of Green and is considered one of the top environmental regulators in the country.

She pushed back against the criticism in the letter, which argued that the cap and trade program California uses to control emissions allows companies to pay to pollute, saying that the revenues were largely routed to low income and minority communities.

“California is at the forefront of actions anywhere in the nation and the world to direct attention and funding to underfunded communities,” Nichols told the Times in an interview last week. 

Read more here

McCarthy in the mix...The Biden team is also reportedly weighing former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyEPA finalizes rule cutting use of potent greenhouse gas used in refrigeration Interior announces expansion of hunting and fishing rights across 2.1 million acres Time to rethink Biden's anti-American energy policies MORE for a role with the administration, though her name has been floated both for EPA and a role in the White House overseeing domestic climate policy to match the special envoy role given to John KerryJohn KerryOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — Senate Finance chair backs budget action on fossil fuel subsidies Kerry: 'We can't get where we need to go' in climate fight if China isn't joining in MORE.

Read more here. 

Not in love with the shape of you: Some progressives are getting increasingly frustrated with how President-elect Joe Biden’s potential Cabinet is shaping up, venting that the incoming administration does not properly reflect the role progressives played helping Biden get to the White House.

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Liberal groups and lawmakers bristled at Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeBiden administration launches new national initiative to fight homelessness Sanders goes back to 2016 playbook to sell .5T budget Activists detail legal fight against HUD for Philadelphia housing MORE (D-Ohio) getting passed over for Agriculture secretary in favor of Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE, who held the role in the Obama administration. And there is growing concern the Biden team will pass over Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs Haaland calls for attention for slain Indigenous women amid Petito case Haaland calls for 'balance' in federal oil and gas program MORE (D-N.M.), a progressive favorite, for Interior secretary.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIn Washington, the road almost never taken Don't let partisan politics impede Texas' economic recovery The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDon't let partisan politics impede Texas' economic recovery Ocasio-Cortez explains 'present' vote on Iron Dome Dingell fundraises off Greene altercation on Capitol steps MORE (D-N.Y.) this week took issue with some of the Cabinet picks and urged Biden to include more progressives in his remaining selections.

Biden’s Cabinet picks so far have mostly consisted of establishment figures and longtime allies such as Tony Blinken for secretary of State, Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenWe don't need platinum to solve the debt ceiling crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill MORE for Treasury secretary, Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughVeteran suicides dropped to lowest level in 12 years Veterans grapple with new Afghanistan: 'Was my service worth it?' VA adds 245K more employees to vaccine mandate MORE for secretary of Veterans Affairs and ex-Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE adviser Neera TandenNeera TandenCapito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet Senate backlog of Biden nominees frustrates White House Harris hosts CEOs, executives at White House to discuss affordable childcare MORE for the Office of Management and Budget.

While the choices have largely succeeded in not upsetting the Democratic base, there is bubbling skepticism among progressive groups that Biden will commit to including picks for top Cabinet positions that will represent their views.

“I think the Biden people have been a little bit less concerned about satisfying progressives. I think they’re a little more concerned about not alienating progressives,” said one Democratic strategist close to the transition.

Sanders told Axios earlier this week that he felt Biden would not have won the White House without the backing of the progressive movement, which deserved “important seats” in the administration.

The Biden team has defended its choices, arguing that the Cabinet is the most diverse in history and will be ready to tackle a whirlwind of crises upon taking office.

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Read more here.

KERRYING ON WITH CLIMATE DIPLOMACY: Former Secretary of State John Kerry faces a major undertaking in regaining U.S. credibility on climate issues as President-elect Joe Biden’s special envoy on climate.

Kerry will take a newly formed position on the National Security Council and will be America’s face abroad as the U.S. rejoins the Paris Climate Accord on Day 1 of the new administration.

But even those who say Biden couldn’t have chosen a better lead on climate say it will be difficult for the U.S. to overcome its deficit on climate action — both in its reputation and on emissions.

Christiana Figueres, a Costa Rican diplomat and one of the chief architects of the Paris agreement, said she was “totally delighted” Kerry was appointed to the role but said the Biden team will have to make good on its promises.

“The U.S. will have to do its homework at home first — at home, first — in order to regain credibility. Yes, the Biden administration has put out their plans, but we're going to have to see the plans being enacted, we're going to have to see the rollbacks of the rollbacks, we're going to have to see, as he's already spoken about, climate change being inserted into every single department,” she said.

Kelley Kizzier, a former EU climate negotiator who now leads international efforts at the Environmental Defense Fund, said the U.S. will have to take a number of actions that “require more than the stroke of a presidential pen if we’re going to have credibility.”

“It’s a plan that requires cooperation with Congress, and I know that's a heavy lift, but we need to start immediately. The world needs to know the U.S. is not getting a free pass on climate,” Kizzier said. 

But even as the U.S. settles its affairs at home, part of the problem is the rest of the world has chugged along.

“Rejoining Paris is good but a return to the status quo from five years ago? The rest of the world has moved on,” said Sarah Millar, a climate advisor who previously worked for the United Kingdom government and in the European Parliament in Brussels.

Read more about the challenges Kerry will face here.

ENERGY BILL WATCH: Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol Democrats' do-or-die moment Biden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan MORE (D-N.Y.) said Monday that a bipartisan energy bill will be included in an omnibus appropriations bill this week. 

"The appropriations bill will include several important pieces of related legislation. One that doesn't get enough attention is a bipartisan energy bill," Schumer said on the Senate floor, apparently referencing a proposal from Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff Graham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet Trump, allies launch onslaught as midterms kick into gear MORE (R-Alaska) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinCongress needs to gird the country for climate crisis Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Poll from liberal group shows more voters in key states back .5T bill MORE (D-W.Va.) that was stalled earlier this year. 

"Earlier this year during the debate over the energy bill, Senate Democrats insisted that a provision to reduce [hydrofluorocarbons] HFCs, a very harmful greenhouse gas that is driving our climate change problem, must be included in the bill," he added. "I'm very happy to report that we have made very good progress towards an agreement on HFC reduction. We are about to get it done, and that's one of the biggest victories to fight global warming in a very long time."

CLIMATE COMMITTEE, CONTINUED: House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Sunday shows preview: Pelosi announces date for infrastructure vote; administration defends immigration policies GOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation MORE (D-Calif.) announced Monday that the House’s Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will continue on into the next Congress. 

“The climate crisis is the existential threat of our time, jeopardizing our public health, our economy, our national security and the whole of God’s creation,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Recognizing the urgency of this crisis and its priority for House Democrats, it is a privilege to once again name Congresswoman Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorFacebook draws lawmaker scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Democrats seize on 'alarm bell' climate report in spending plan push Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Cities a surprise refuge for wildlife MORE as Chair of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis for the 117th Congress.“

WHAT WE’RE READING:

Pollution, poverty and pandemic collide: A community on edge, E&E News reports

Exxon Mobil begins defense of itself, and a Big Oil future, as activists circle, CNBC reports

Mexico proposes phasing out Roundup pesticide by 2024, The Associated Press reports

ICYMI: Stories from Monday and the weekend...

Supreme Court gives New Mexico a win in water dispute with Texas

Biden eyes new EPA picks as Nichols falls from favor: report

Countries roll out 2030 Paris Accord goals amid US absence

Biden eyes Gina McCarthy as domestic 'climate czar': report

Progressives frustrated with representation as Biden Cabinet takes shape

Challenges persist for Biden after delayed transition start

Kerry faces big job on climate, US credibility

UN Secretary-General says countries aren't doing enough to combat climate change

FROM THE HILL’S OPINION PAGES:

Brian DeeseBrian DeeseDemocrats seek to cool simmering tensions On The Money — Yellen sounds alarm on national default Biden officials raise concerns about rising meat prices MORE v. The Greens? asks Jonathan Lesser, president of Continental Economics and an adjunct fellow with the Manhattan Institute.