Nationality: American

Current Position: United States Special Envoy for Climate Change

Those of us who have been operating in the UNFCCC know Todd Stern well as he is the United States Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading talks at the United Nations climate conferences, since his appointment by Hillary Clinton in 2009.

While Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary in Clinton’s White House from 1993, Stern also acted as the senior White House negotiator on the Kyoto Protocol. Following this, he joined the US Treasury, from 1999 to 2001, advising the Secretary on the policy and politics of a broad range of economic and financial issues.

Perhaps other governments should have sent their Ministers to this round of negotiations….a missed opportunity perhaps?

What does Todd Stern believe?

May, 2004: "After all, the evidence of climate change is overwhelming. Average temperatures are clearly rising - the 12 warmest years on record have occurred since 1990; the last 50 year period appears to be the warmest half-century in 6,000 years. 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."

June, 2007: Stern and William Antholis argued that negotiations on international environmental treaties, via United Nations meetings involving representatives of over 150 countries, "is no way to run a planet".

Instead they argued for a new process to "break through the political fog and bureaucratic clutter to give global environmental issues the focused top-level treatment they deserve. We propose the creation of an E-8: a compact forum of leaders from developed and developing countries devoting their full attention once a year to global ecological and resource challenges". They proposed four developed and four developing countries - United States, the EU, Japan, Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa. They noted that other possible contenders could be Australia, Canada, Indonesia and Mexico, but that "the objective of preserving a sense of intimacy and informality argues against a larger grouping".

January, 2009: "As the President and Secretary Clinton have made clear, climate change poses a profound threat to our future. If our deepest obligation in life is to care for our children and leave a better world for them and those who follow, then we must confront climate change now with an entirely new level of commitment, energy, and focus. Our scientists are telling us, emphatically, that the rate at which we are warming the planet is unsustainable and will cause vast and potentially catastrophic damage to our environment, our economy, and our national security".

September, 2009: "My basic view here is that there are a handful of really important issues that are core to getting to get a deal done, that there is a deal there to be done if countries evaluate what they can do on the basis of their own real interests, their own economic, material, and political interests. There is a lot of ideological baggage that has been carried – that has been sort of part of the DNA of these negotiations for the last 17 years. And that kind of baggage can hang you up and make agreement hard to get. I think if people can focus on their real interests, what they can do, what they can’t do, respecting everybody’s own legitimate constraints, there’s a deal there to be done. I think that we will get a deal done, but that’s critical. That pragmatic viewpoint is going to be critical to having that happen."

October, 2009: Kathy Newman, from Channel 4 News, asked Stern whether he agreed with "Gordon Brown that the planet does face a catastrophe if there is no deal at Copenhagen, or would you use slightly less apocalyptic language?" Stern evaded the question, preferring to praise Brown for having taken a leadership role in the debate on climate change. Immediately afterwards, he was asked "Are we facing [inaudible]?" (though it appears from media reports the missing word was "catastrophe). "You should ask a scientist", Stern said dismissively.

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