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FIRST ON FOX: Major environmental organizations are quietly playing a key role in the Biden administration’s foreign policy efforts, according to emails reviewed by Fox News Digital.
The emails underscore the influence that left-wing environmentalists have on the Biden administration through Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s office.
On multiple occasions since President Biden took office nearly 20 months ago, green groups have acted as an apparent go-between for the administration on key international climate negotiations, according to emails obtained in an information request by watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) and shared with Fox News Digital.
The emails show correspondence between the environmental groups and Jesse Young, a senior advisor in Kerry’s office. They offer a rare peak into Kerry’s office which has largely been tight-lipped about its internal operations.
“The Department of State’s leadership in combatting the global climate crisis is supported by diplomats, negotiators, and subject matter experts with diverse backgrounds and decades of knowledge and experience from the public sector, academia, NGOs, and the private sector,” a State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital.
Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry attends the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 12, 2021. (Reuters/Yves Herman)
On March 8, 2021, Young emailed Alden Meyer — a senior associate at environmental group E3G and climate policy consultant at Performance Partners — and other green group leaders, giving them information about Kerry’s travel and asking them for their position on a leadership change at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). At the time, former Australian government official Mathias Cormann had emerged as a favorite for OECD’s secretary-general position.
Meyer responded, saying the groups were “weighing in on the Cormann front” and forwarded a message from green groups. He also copied a series of other environmental leaders and added that he would brief Young on the in greater detail during “tomorrow’s Kitchen Cabinet briefing,” an apparent reference to an off-the-books group that meets to advise administration officials.
“Our analysis is that unless the U.S. can be persuaded not to go for Cormann, he will get the job,” the message stated. “It’s coming down to the wire and this is about drawing a line in the sand and saying anyone with a history of blocking climate action must be disqualified from senior international appointments.”
Young requests input from environmental NGOs on OECD’s leadership change. (Protect the Public’s Trust)
In response to Meyer’s email, Jake Schmidt — the senior strategic director for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) international climate program — said the U.S. needed to quickly “use its influence at the OECD” to support another candidate.
“The Australian bloke is horrible and shouldn’t be put in charge of such an important role,” Schmidt wrote. “Making climate an ‘essential element’ of foreign policy means that climate change needs to be at the top of all decisions.”
OECD member nations ultimately appointed Cormann to the position a week later. Cormann, though, selected James Rubin — a former foreign policy adviser to Biden, State Department official, Kerry presidential campaign adviser and lobbyist who terminated his lobbying registrations to join the Biden administration, according to The New York Times — to serve as a top deputy.
“As a climate change think tank, E3G regularly seeks to educate and inform a broad range of stakeholders on our research into the impacts of and solutions to climate change, which represents the most significant threat to the health, prosperity, and well-being of everyone on the planet,” Meyer told Fox News Digital in an email.
Schmidt responds to Young and Meyer’s correspondence, weighing in on Cormann’s bid for OECD head. (Protect the Public’s Trust)
In a separate email exchange on March 30, 2021, Young emailed Christy Goldfuss, the senior vice president for energy and environment policy at the Center for American Progress (CAP), referencing a phone call they had just participated in about the “climate finance push.” He mentioned that Goldfuss organized the call.
Young then said he would be interested in another call with John Podesta — CAP’s founder who was recently appointed as a White House clean energy czar — to “sync up” on climate finance issues.
In another exchange between Goldfuss and Young on April 26, 2021, Goldfuss invited a State Department official to participate in a “high level discussion with the EU on climate finance.” The official’s name was redacted from the email.
“The first hour of the dialogue will be about electrification and EV’s. The second two are dedicated to climate finance,” Goldfuss wrote to Young. “The final hour is the high level dialogue. If you think this will be of interest, can you share [redacted] official email address with me.”
Goldfuss emails Young, inviting a State Department official to "high level" talks with European leaders. (Protect the Public’s Trust)
“Facilitating discussions between international thought leaders is an important part of the role of any think tank seeking to improve the lives of all Americans. We have national security and climate experts at CAP,” a CAP spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “It is natural for CAP to convene gatherings that include thought leaders from inside and outside the U.S. government to participate in important dialogues when appropriate.”
Finally, on March 11, 2022, Anthony Swift, NRDC’s director of its Canada Project, emailed Young and other State Department and White House officials offering to act as a middleman in climate and “forest carbon accounting practices” discussions with Canada. Swift said he would like to brief the Biden administration about his team’s discussions with the Canadian government’s environment and natural resources ministers.
“Both Ministers have expressed interest in addressing these issues, but have highlighted a desire to do so bilaterally with the United States,” he wrote. “We’d appreciate an opportunity to brief you on both Canada’s current forest carbon accounting practices and opportunities to advance Canada’s climate ambition by harmonizing US-Canadian forest carbon accounting practices.”
The only other email from the thread included in the information request was a follow up from Swift, saying that Young had informed him he had included a wrong email address for one of the officials copied.
President Joe Biden greets Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in California on June 8. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
PPT Director Michael Chamberlain said the email records his group obtained showed a concerning pattern of the Biden administration consulting outside groups on key foreign policy decisions and thus evading oversight requirements.
“Outsourcing foreign policy to activist organizations, which these documents indicate may be occurring, raises serious legal, ethical, and constitutional concerns,” Chamberlain told Fox News Digital.
“The American public expects that the foreign policy activities that affect their lives, livelihoods, and security will be conducted by the federal government that represents them, not by large special interest groups outside the transparency and oversight requirements governing federal agencies,” he added.
The NRDC didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.
Thomas Catenacci is a politics writer at Fox News Digital