Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson told senators during his confirmation hearing the “risk of climate change does exist,” but he said there’s still debate over the impacts future warming will have.
“I came to my personal position over about 20 years as an engineer and a scientist, understanding the evolution of the science, came to the conclusion a few years ago the risk of climate change does exist, and that the consequences could be serious enough that action should be taken,” Tillerson said during his confirmation hearing.
“The type of action seem to be where the largest areas of debate exist in the public discourse. I think it’s important to recognize the U.S. has done a pretty good job,” Tillerson said before being interrupted by Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations.
Corker wanted President-Elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the State Department to give a more “succinct” answer of his thoughts on global warming.
“You believe that human activity… is contributing to climate change?” Corker asked.
“The increase in the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are having an effect,” Tillerson said. “Our ability to predict that effect is very limited.”
Environmentalists have opposed Tillerson’s nomination, arguing his confirmation would put “Big Oil” and “climate deniers” in charge of U.S. foreign policy. Environmental activists interrupted Tillerson’s hearing, yelling about pipelines and Hurricane Sandy.
But Tillerson is no “denier” of global warming. While CEO, Exxon supported a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. Tillerson told lawmakers he thought a carbon tax would better address greenhouse gas emissions than cap-and-trade.
“Let’s simplify the system,” he said, qualifying such a tax should be “revenue neutral.”
“There will be impacts on jobs,” he cautioned. “It’s not a revenue measure.”
Tillerson also said he backed a “global response” to global warming since no one nation could tackle the issue on its own.
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