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COP21: Dartmouth’s In Town Again

Todd Stern.jpgA large Dartmouth contingent is in Paris for the COP21 climate talks, with the most prominent alumnus being Todd Stern ‘73, the Obama administration’s chief climate negotiator.

Todd is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the College and he earned a law degrees from Harvard. He has worked as an attorney, including a two-year stint with the Legal Aid Society, as a Fellow at the Center for American Progress, as a staff secretary and assistant to President Bill Clinton, as a senior negotiator for the Clinton White House at the Kyoto and Buenos Aires climate talks, as the architect of the Treasury Department’s anti-money-laundering strategy, and as an advisor to Senator Patrick Leahy and Hillary Clinton in her capacity as Secretary of State and as a primary candidate.

Now in his seventh year as President Obama’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd probably has the world’s most thankless job. He must contend with pressure from the White House to get a deal done, one that can pass muster with the Republican-controlled House and Senate, and he must corral 195 nations into a consensus on what is a fair accord for everyone. Of course, he takes endless grief from climate change advocates for not being ambitious enough (Q: How can you tell a climate change advocate? A: No problem. They will tell you), and from people on the other side of the fence for selling out the U.S. of A.

Fortunately, Todd keeps his cool, and he has a sense of humor. In a recent interview, he described his job as follows:

“You’re only working on a problem that affects every aspect of everbody’s economy, so it’s not like it’s a big deal,” he said, deadpan. “It affects everybody, all of these different interests, all of these different economies, and it’s consensus rule, so everybody has to agree,” he said. “Other than that, it’s easy.”

If Hillary Clinton becomes the next President a year from now, we can expect a prominent role in her administration for Todd.

Addendum: On August 2, 2012 Todd gave a full-throated summary at the College of the arguments supporting the existence of man-made climate change. His remarks were part of a Leading Voices in U.S. Foreign Policy summer lecture series.

Addendum: The Dartmouth contingent here also includes David Turnbull ‘04, Lindsay Brewer ‘13, Morgan Curtis ‘14, Leehi Yona ‘16, Drew Jones ‘91 and Beth Sawin ‘90. The Valley News notes that Professor of Environmental Studies Anne Kapuscinski, who was recently named the chair of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Board of Directors, will be coming to Paris this weekend, and word is that there is a gang of Tuckies here, too.

Addendum: In the spirit of free expression, I include here a link to the Statement to the Sub-committee on Space, Science and Competitiveness Of the United States Senate: Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Climate Change made this very day by Lyme resident, conservative commentator and all-around wit Mark Steyn.

Addendum: Dartmouth Now has put out a piece on College participants at COP21.


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