Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson believes that “the risk of climate change does exist, and the consequences could be serious enough that action should be taken.”
Tillerson testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, The Washington Post reported.
However, Tillerson dodged questions about Exxon Mobil’s efforts to obscure the science of climate change. Tillerson served as chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobile for 10 years. He stepped down on December 31, 2016, to become Secretary of State.
Tillerson believes that rising greenhouse-gas concentrations pose threats to the earth’s climate. But he added “our ability [knowledge] to predict that effect is very limited,” and what actions nations should take “seems to be the largest area of debate existing in the public discourse.”
In addition, he does not see climate change “as the eminent national security threat that perhaps others do.”
Exxon Mobil allegedly played a role in spreading misinformation on the science of climate change. However, Tillerson refused to answer about the oil company where he spent 40 years.
“I’m in no position to speak” on behalf of company executives, Tillerson said. “You would have to speak to them.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the former vice presidential candidate, pressed Tillerson about his knowledge of the oil giant’s history on climate change. The former CEO continued to refer him to the company.
“Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question, or are you refusing to do so?” Kaine asked. “A little of both,” Tillerson said.
Later on Twitter, said, “It’s shameful Tillerson refused to answer my questions on his company’s role in funding phony climate science. Bottom line: #ExxonKnew.”
The United States is playing a leading role in a global climate agreement signed late 2015 in Paris. Under the agreement, hundreds of countries agreed to cut carbon emissions to help mitigate the effects of global warming. But President-elect Donald Trump, during his campaign, said that he would “cancel” U.S. participation in the agreement.
In response to a question about the Paris global climate deal, Tillerson said: “It’s important that the U.S. maintains its seat at the table about how to address the threat of climate change, which does require a global response. No one country is going to solve this on its own.”