Susan Biniaz, who played a key role in drafting the US-China and Paris deals, will continue to work on international climate change issues

Susan Biniaz was a key architect of the Paris Agreement (Pic: IISD)

Susan Biniaz, the US state department’s former top climate change lawyer, has been appointed a senior fellow at the UN Foundation.

After nearly three decades as a civil servant, she will continue to work on international climate change issues for the advocacy and outreach organisation.

She resigned from the state department two months ago, shortly after the election of president Donald Trump – whose agenda is notably hostile to much of the work done by Biniaz and her colleagues in recent years.

A key architect of the 2015 Paris climate deal, Biniaz shaped the language to accommodate the US’ polarised politics and build bridges abroad.

Her work has come under renewed scrutiny in recent months as Trump’s White House dithers over quitting the agreement. Trump is now reportedly postponing a decision until after a G7 summit 26-27 May.

Trump is seeking to reverse his predecessor Barack Obama’s policies that underpinned a US commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2025. Is US participation in the deal compatible with this fossil fuel-friendly domestic agenda?

Together with lead negotiator Todd Stern, Biniaz has been advising that it is. Both have told media that any country can revise its pledge. While the Paris Agreement encourages parties to increase ambition over time, it does not prohibit the reverse.

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