Finding New Climate Partners: The Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate



At the center of the Biden administration’s international climate policy agenda is the Office for the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC). Created in January 2021 to restore American climate leadership on the world stage and further global climate ambition, SPEC has served as the principal office for U.S. engagement with international partners on climate change.

Increasingly, this engagement has extended beyond nation-states to include corporations.
This shift in strategy to include businesses as a critical component of U.S. climate diplomacy efforts became clear at COP26 in November 2021 when President Biden announced the creation of the First Movers Coalition (FMC). The Coalition, introduced as a “platform for companies to spur the commercialization of emerging clean energy technologies,” has now grown to represent ten percent of the global Fortune 2000 market share and is continuing to expand. SPEC’s engagement with the private sector has not been limited to the FMC. Corporate partners have become a regular sight in press releases of new SPEC initiatives. Most recently, these initiatives include the Energy Transition Accelerator, a public-private initiative announced at COP27 which seeks to fund clean energy projects in the Global South using carbon offsets. Under the leadership of John Kerry, the SPEC policy portfolio has likely expanded beyond its initial expectations.

In April 2021, Special Presidential Envoy Kerry visited China becoming the first and highest-ranking Biden administration official to do so. In November 2022, Special Presidential Envoy Kerry announced a clean energy pilot project with the Government of Ukraine inserting the office into U.S. national security strategy in the Russia-Ukraine War. The expansion of SPEC’s policy portfolio seems hardly accidental. As the U.S. government ramps up its effort to address climate change and examines the scope of the crisis, it is sending a clear message: “we cannot do this alone.”

Author: Gabriel Harrison,

Climate change

The energy sector is
central of efforts to
combat climate change

Climate change

In a hotter world energy
efficiency is more
important than ever