From NBC's Libby Leist
In coordination with today's White House announcements related to the environment, administration officials tell NBC News Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce the appointment of a climate change envoy this afternoon at the State Department.
She is expected to name Washington, D.C., lawyer and climate change and environmental expert Todd Stern. Stern served in a variety of positions during the Clinton administration, including the President's Coordinator for Climate Change. Stern was the chief negotiator at the 1997 Kyoto climate change talks.
In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee two weeks ago, Clinton promised senators that the Obama administration will take the lead at U.N. climate change negotiations scheduled for December in Copenhagen.
"We will have a climate change envoy negotiator, because we want to elevate it," she said, "and we want to have one person who will lead our international efforts."
Clinton also told the senators that any agreement must include the world's rising economic powers.
"As we move toward Copenhagen and attempt to craft a climate change agreement," she said, "all the major nations must be part of it. You know, China, India, Russia and others; they have to be part of whatever agreement we put forth."
*** UPDATE *** In naming Todd Stern today as special envoy for climate change, Secretary of State Clinton said the Obama administration will make climate change and energy a top priority, unlike the Bush years.
"We are sending an unequivacol message that the United States will be energetic, focused, strategic and serious about addressing global climate change and the corollary issue of clean energy," Clinton said.
She also stressed the need to act immediately.
"The urgency of the global climate crisis must not be underestimated," she said, "nor should the science behind it or the facts on the ground be ignored or dismissed. The time for realism and action is now."
Stern will be empowered to negotiate on behalf of the United States at climate change talks in Copenhagen in December and other bilateral discussions, Clinton said.
In his remarks, Stern thanked Secretary Clinton for the appointment and joked that he was first introduced to "Hillaryland" through his wife. He said of the climate change issue, "The time for denial, delay and dispute is over."