What Does Trump's Secretary of State Pick Mean For Our Future? 17 December 2016 | Posted in News
After the disappointing results of the election, we are all wondering the same thing: What will a Trump Presidency mean for the future of our climate? Trump has made it extremely clear that he does not support the Paris agreement, a carbon tax, or believes in climate change. As the cabinet picks keep coming, we see the news go crazy over each one. One of his more recent and controversial picks is Rex Tillerson for secretary of state which will be his 3rd billionaire pick (he has already appointed 7 millionaires). Rex Tillerson has been the CEO of Exxonmobil since 1975 and has had a love hate relationship with climate change.
One of Exxonmobil’s largest controversies for climate change supposedly knowing the threats of climate change 11 years before it became of public interest. According to an 8 month investigation from Insideclimate News, Exxonmobil knew that climate change was a threat in 1977. They even spent a million dollars on a machine that would track how much carbon dioxide the ocean absorbs. This sparked public outrage over social media including the #Exxonknew, and there was even a lawsuit filed against the company. Finally after 11 years in 1988 a NASA scientist by the name of James Hansen spoke at a congressional hearing about the threats of climate change. Even though the company already knew about climate change, they stated that the science was still highly controversial and could not be completely proven. In 1989, they started a branch of their company called the Global Climate Coalition (discontinued in 2002) which served the purpose of confusing and misleading citizens about Climate Change so they could continue producing oil while looking like they had corporate responsibility. This branch ended up donating 31 million dollars to 69 different organizations looking to confuse citizens as well. Rex Tillerson even said when referring to climate change “We believe the consequences will be manageable.” In the early 2000’s when Exxonmobil accepted the fact that their Coalition had for the most part failed, they switched to supporting more climate change policies. For example, in 2009 Rex Tillerson advocated for the carbon tax. In 2016, he endorsed the Paris Climate Change agreement. We have no way of knowing whether this was because they wanted to look responsible, or because they actually cared. I assume that Rex Tillerson may have endorsed the Paris Deal because he knew that despite his immense power, he would still not be able to cancel the agreement. On the other hand, he has also endorsed the Keystone XL Pipeline which would be a disaster if passed. He may be a mediocre Secretary of State pick because he does have lots of foreign trade experience and has made some successful oil trades with Russia, which Obama has approved.
At this point, it is hard to know what Rex Tillerson will do for our climate as secretary of state. As of Trump’s inauguration, he will no longer be the CEO of Exxonmobil which means that his choices as Secretary of State will not affect his own wealth. It is clear that many of the choices that Rex has made over the years have been heavily influenced by what it will mean for his company. We will have to wait and see what this cabinet pick means for the future of America.