Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trumps pick for secretary of state, hinted on Wednesday that he would support keeping the United States in the historic Paris climate agreement.
Asked during his Senate confirmation hearing whether the U.S.should maintain its commitments in the accord,the former Exxon Mobil Corp. chief executive said the 180-country deal allows the country to influence the necessary global response to climate change.
Its important that the United States maintain its seat at the table with the conversations around how to deal with the threats of climate change, he said.
The question came nearly 90 minutes into Tillersons confirmation hearing, during which his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin prompted intense scrutiny. Protesters interrupted the proceedings at least three times by holding up signs with the words Reject Rexx written in the same font as Exxon Mobils logo and shoutingoil is dead and please dont put Exxon in charge of the State Department.
Tillerson, 64, has a complicated record on global warming. He spent 41 years nearly his entire career working at Exxon Mobil. He led the company for a decade, starting in 2006. During that time, the company acknowledged that the planet is warming and scaled back funding for a Big Tobacco-style disinformation campaign meant to seed doubt in climate science.
Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, began seeking ways to withdraw from the global accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions soon after winning the election in November. Such a move would face fierce opposition. The historic agreement, the first time the U.S. and China have agreed to scale back carbon emissions, drew overwhelming support from business leaders.
More than 600 companies signed an open letterto the president-elect this week urging him not to renege on the countrys environmental commitments. Even Fox News punditBill OReilly said in November that Trump should respect the agreement.
President-elect Trump should accept the Paris Treaty on climate to buy some goodwill overseas, OReilly said. It doesnt really amount to much anyway. Let it go.
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