Gina McCarthy

Head of the EPA and face of Obama’s new climate push.

When Obama launched his push on climate this year, it was head of the Environmental Protection Agency,Gina McCarthy, who fronted it. She was greeted with cheers and a standing ovation for her efforts. Whether Congress and other less green aspects of US politics feel so warmly towards her is another matter though.

If John Kerry is bringing war and national security frames to climate change, McCarthy is a key part of a push on the public health side of the issue. An environmental health and air quality expert herself, it is striking that this campaign is rooted in images of asthmatic children. Cynics say this is to keep the focus squarely on coal still leaving a lot of space for gas. However, the health frame also adds a slightly less abstract dimension than events going on in the sky or on scientists graphs, as well as involving in a different set of policy-makers, experts and activists.

McCarthy and the rest of the Obama climate push still have a long fight on their hands in terms of making this campaign work domestically, but it has clearly got an eye on changing discourse, on national and international levels, as well as legislation. We’ll see more of McCarthy, and we’ll see more of the idea of action on climate change as one of health, from the Obama team and many others.