Rex Tillerson's Stance On Climate Change Is Better Than Trump's, But That's Not Saying Much

On Dec. 12, news broke that President-Elect Donald Trump is set to name Exxon Mobil CEO and president Rex Tillerson for his new secretary of state and oust supposed front-runner Mitt Romney from the coveted diplomatic position. A businessman with no policy or government experience, Tillerson has come under fire in the days leading up to media confirmation of his appointment for his alleged business and financial ties to Russia, but as CEO of one of the world's largest oil companies, others are wondering what Rex Tillerson's views on climate change are and what, if anything, he might do about the issue as secretary of state.

As it turns out, Tillerson's stance on climate change is much more progressive than Trump's, though given Trump's most recent comments about the massive issue, it's far from surprising. Under Tillerson's leadership, Exxon released a statement saying they agree with the Paris climate change agreement, a pact among the nations of the world to stem the ill effects of climate change, and his personal comments echo those of his company. Tillerson's beliefs clearly break from Trump's ever-changing stance on climate change, but it's far from the first time someone close to The Donald disagreed with him.

It's easy for even the staunchest Republican to look good next to the president-elect, and while Tillerson's view that climate change is a real thing is heartening in comparison to Trump's wildly-fluctuating views on this dangerous global issue, they don't make him a saint. It can't be forgotten that he is a modern-day oil baron who has made at least $150 million by leading the US's largest fossil fuel company. Tillerson complaining about the evils of climate change is akin to the CEO of Phillip Morris crying about lung cancer. What's worse is that Tillerson won't even be overseeing America's environmental security — that job is going to Oklahoma Attorney General and renowned climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt, who is slated to head the Environmental Protection Agency in Trump's administration. Worse still is that despite his politically-advantageous views today, Tillerson's company, Exxon, has known about climate change for 40 years and spent an unthinkable amount of money on misinformation campaigns to keep oil profits up. That's doesn't exactly constitute an eco-conscious legacy.

The appointment of Tillerson makes a bizarre kind of sense if you do the impossible and try to think from Trump's perspective: His "diplomatic skills" lie in his international business dealings, which is kinda like representing the entire US if you think of the country as a massive corporation. Unfortunately, Tillerson as secretary of state will do exactly that, and his appointment shows how Trump intends to run the country like a business.