What Rex Tillerson’s firing means for U.S. climate policy

Reaction continues on Trump’s decision to fire Rex Tillerson as U.S. Secretary of State. But what does this mean for U.S. climate change policy?

Tillerson leaving means the “disappearance of the more moderate voices” in the White House, yet he was also on the “losing end of the fight to keep Trump from saying he would withdraw from the Paris accord”.

Writing in the New York Times, Paul Pillar, who served 28 years at the CIA before becoming a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies, notes that Tillerson’s replacement-in-waiting, Mike Pompeo, has described the Paris Agreement as a “costly burden”.

This “is another echo of Mr. Trump’s inclinations and an indication that as secretary of state he will oppose any renewed steps toward keeping the planet habitable”, Pillar says.

Reuters notes that Pompeo, who was a Republican congressman from Kansas prior to running the CIA under U.S. Trump, has been among the biggest critics of efforts to combat global warming by past U.S. administrations, and has questioned the validity of existing climate science – saying it needs to be developed further.

“We’ve gone from Exxon’s CEO to the Koch Brothers’ most loyal lapdog,” said May Boeve, executive director for climate activist group 350.org.

“In this position, Pompeo could prove to be dangerous to our national security and the safety of our planet,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.


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