If Sen. John Kerry becomes the next secretary of State or Defense, he will likely raise climate change to a top-tier priority in either agency.

Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has long been viewed as a likely candidate to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. While United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice more recently had been viewed as the top contender for the post, fierce Republican resistance to her candidacy now appears to be making Kerry, who would probably face a relatively easy Senate confirmation, the more likely candidate. …

“No senator since Al Gore knows as much about the science and diplomacy of climate change as Kerry,” said David Goldwyn, an international energy consultant who served as Clinton’s special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs. “He would not only put climate change in the top five issues he raises with every country, but he would probably rethink our entire diplomatic approach to the issue.”