Rex Tillerson Just Axed Key Climate Change Position

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Trump’s Secretary of State and former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson just abolished a key position for the climate change fight at the State Department, taking the agency another step back from tackling the problem.

His department is already struggling with an exodus of senior officials, while key positions remain open. Inspired by a million-dollar study to revamp the State Department’s structure, Tillerson killed several key positions that were supposed to be held by experts with deep expertise in U.S. foreign policies, arguing that the roles were either outdated or unnecessary.

One of the experts that will lose their job is the climate change envoy. Tillerson told Congress that as many as 70 positions were slashed since the policy challenges related to these positions have been resolved.

The climate change envoy’s job was to ensure that the country’s international policy on climate change is properly developed, implemented, and overseen. Todd Stern held the position under the Obama administration for eight years and helped the U.S. negotiate the 2015 Paris agreement which the State Department described as the “most ambitious climate accord ever negotiated.”

Trump Administration Remains Skeptical of Climate Science

It is not the first time the Trump administration refuses to act on climate change. President Trump repeatedly said climate change is not a man-made phenomenon, while many of his Cabinet appointees are skeptical about the validity of climate science.

Tillerson is the former chief executive officer of Exxon which is now caught in a scandal concerning its role in downplaying the severity of climate change in the public’s eyes, even though its executives were perfectly aware of the risk.

Earlier this summer, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris agreement despite Tillerson’s discrete criticism. The State Secretary still thinks that it would be better for the U.S. to stay in the accord for political reasons. Trump’s move slashed the country’s $3-billion-contribution to the Green Climate Fund, which is designed to help the development of green energy.
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