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Meet the ‘Closer’ Who Finds the Right Words When Climate Talks Hit a Wall

When President Donald J. Trump got here into workplace promising to withdraw from the Paris Settlement (which he finally did), Ms. Biniaz left the federal government.

She joined Yale Regulation Faculty as a lecturer and led an unofficial diaspora of officers from the Obama administration who labored to guard the Paris Settlement by way of the Trump years, reminding nations at U.N. conferences that American cities, states and different establishments remained dedicated to the accord.

When Mr. Kerry agreed to function President Biden’s local weather envoy, he requested Ms. Biniaz to rejoin the federal government. “You don’t say no to John Kerry,” she stated.

Her signature look — lengthy denim skirt, button-down shirt, cardigan over her shoulders and white hair pulled right into a bun — offers her the looks of somebody’s aunt about to interrupt out her knitting. Throughout excessive stakes negotiations, she stands out in a sea of males in darkish blue fits. Colleagues name it “Sue’s uniform.” One in every of them dressed as her for Halloween.

“In case you introduced somebody right into a room of local weather negotiators and stated, ‘Pick the one that is likely one of the savviest negotiators round,’ the reply is Sue,” stated Nat Keohane, the president of the Middle for Local weather and Power Options, an environmental group. “However that’s not instantly obvious. Lots of people overlook her, and she or he’s advantageous with it.”

For all of her talent with language, Ms. Biniaz often wonders if her work has an affect.

“You may say, Are you simply papering over variations?” Ms. Biniaz stated. “Typically I do take into consideration that. Am I perpetuating disagreements by discovering a type of phrases that everyone can comply with? I don’t know if there’s a solution to that query.”

However finally, the correct phrases matter, she stated, as a result of they outline and demand motion from the neighborhood of countries.

“It issues to me as a result of it issues to the world,” Ms. Biniaz stated. “Some folks say it’s simply phrases, however to me it’s like, what do you imply, it’s simply phrases? Worldwide agreements are simply phrases. It’s the reflection of what we predict we’ve agreed to with different international locations. And if the phrases don’t matter, then the entire enterprise fails.”



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