Germany taps Greenpeace chief as climate envoy

BERLIN, Feb 8 (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has recruited the chief of Greenpeace International, American Jennifer Morgan, as her special envoy for international climate policy, government sources said on Tuesday.

Germany is Europe's biggest economy – and the biggest CO2 emitter. With Morgan taking the job with the government, Germany would join a small group of countries with designated envoys to handle international climate change diplomacy.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who took office in December in coalition with the Greens and liberal Free Democrats, has pledged to form a "club" of large economies pushing for more ambitious action to tackle climate change. Germany holds the presidency of the Group of Seven rich countries this year.

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Morgan and Greenpeace were not available for comment.

Last year, John Kerry became the United States' first special presidential envoy for climate. China, Denmark, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and the Marshall Islands also have climate envoys.

"Well it is bold - non German," said Rachel Kyte, Dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University who held senior climate positions at the World Bank and United Nations.

"I think it means there will be someone driving ambitious climate action at the time of the German G7 and who has understanding of how different countries and communities around the world view the enormity of the task ahead," Kyte said.

Jennifer Tollmann, a Berlin-based senior policy advisor at climate change think tank E3G, told Reuters: "This is a woman who was at the heart of the negotiations for the Paris Agreement."

"She is Scholz's best resource for making sure that his vision for a climate club... really brings partners on board."

Morgan frequently joins activists in high-profile campaigns, including one last year where she joined 40 Greenpeace activists on kayaks to block the entrance to a refinery owned by Shell.

Her appointment also coincides with Europe attempting to roll out international climate policies including the world's first carbon border tariff, imposing CO2 emissions costs on polluting goods imported into the EU.

That has unnerved trading partners including Russia and China, and is likely to require a large diplomatic lift to convince nations that the levy is designed to fight climate change, and not a protectionist tool.

Baerbock, of Germany's ecologist Greens party, will introduce Morgan to the media on Wednesday after her appointment has been approved by the cabinet, the government sources told Reuters, confirming a report in magazine Der Spiegel.

International climate policy has moved to the Foreign Ministry from the Environment Ministry under Germany's new ruling coalition.

Morgan has been head of Greenpeace International since 2016. Her main task in her new role will be to prepare for annual global climate conferences.

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Reporting by Reporting by Markus Wacket in Berlin, Kate Abnett in Brussels and Valerie Volcovici in Washington, D.C.; Writing by Paul Carrel and Zuzanna Szymanska; Editing by Alexandra Hudson, Katy Daigle and Angus MacSwan

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