The German government has appointed Jennifer Morgan, the long-time boss of Greenpeace International, as its new special envoy for climate, the country’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock announced on Wednesday, giving a boost to the green credentials of the country’s coalition government.
The new appointment comes as the German government faces intense international pressure to hold off approving Nord Stream 2 – a gas pipeline that has been built under the Baltic Sea to funnel natural gas from Russia to Germany and beyond – as Russian troops remain camped at the Ukrainian border, raising concerns of a potential incursion.
Morgan’s stance on Nord Stream 2 is unclear, but many climate campaigners oppose the project, which a study estimated would release 100 million tons of carbon-dioxide a year into the atmosphere.
Morgan, who is a US citizen, is fluent in German, lives in Berlin and has family in Germany. She does not, however, have German citizenship yet – a point that was raised during the news conference announcing her appointment.
Baerbock said during a news conference on Wednesday that Morgan had applied for German citizenship, and added that while waiting for the naturalization process to finish, Morgan will formally serve as a special representative for climate.
After that she will take on the role of Secretary of State.
Questioned about her American citizenship, Morgan said her “political political heart beats for Germany.”
“I’ve been living here since 2003, this is my home … but I also have family in the US, my father is there, but my heart is here,” she said.
Baerbock, who is from the Greens party, said Morgan was her “dream candidate” for the role.
“I don’t know anyone in the world with her expertise,” Baerbock told reporters during a news conference on Wednesday.
Morgan led Greenpeace International for nearly six years. She was previously the head of the climate program at the World Resources Institute, a think tank.
Baerbock said she was excited to have Morgan as “her new right hand” and stressed that tapping her for the role “sends a strong message to the world” about Germany’s approach to the climate crisis.
Germany has come under criticism from climate campaigners not only for its heavy reliance on natural gas, which is a fossil fuel, but for lagging behind other western European nations for phasing out coal.
Baerbock was until recently one of the co-leaders of the Green Party, which has formed a coalition government with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Free Democrats (FDP) following September’s general election. As part of the coalition agreement, climate agenda has moved directly under the foreign ministry,
The climate crisis was a major topic during the election campaign last year, partly because the country experienced deadly floods, which scientists described as a one-in-500-year weather event. Parts of Germany experienced more rain in a day than they typically would in a whole month, and nearly 200 people were killed in the event, which also impacted Belgium.
CNN’s Stephanie Halasz and Christopher Stern contributed reporting.