US President-elect Joe Biden has announced appointments of key members of his climate team, which includes Pakistan-born Ali Zaidi who will serve as deputy White House Climate Coordinator.
Zaidi, 33, currently New York’s deputy secretary for energy and environment, is the is the highest ranking Pakistani-American in the Biden administration.
"We need a whole-of-government approach to take on the climate crisis — in a way that spurs jobs and advances justice," tweeted Zaidi.
"I was floored when President-elect Joe Biden called. I still am — profoundly humbled, deeply honoured, and so ready to get to work!"
He will work under Gina McCarthy, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under former President Barack Obama and now leads a major advocacy group, to coordinate the new administration’s domestic climate agenda.
“This brilliant, tested, trailblazing team will be ready on day one to confront the existential threat of climate change with a unified national response rooted in science and equity. They share my belief that we have no time to waste to confront the climate crisis, protect our air and drinking water, and deliver justice to communities that have long shouldered the burdens of environmental harms,” Biden said in a statement.
A press release issued by Biden’s transition team described Zaidi as “a leading climate expert and longtime advisor to the president-elect”, noting that he helped draft and implement the Obama-Biden Administration’s Climate Action Plan and negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement.
Zaidi, who immigrated from Pakistan, grew up in the Rust Belt outside Erie, Pennsylvania. He studied at Harvard and Georgetown Universities.
“Zaidi brings the cross-sector and multi-disciplinary experience needed to deliver a whole-of-government response to the climate crisis,” the press release said.