Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson wasted no time in changing the State Department’s climate change web page after taking his new post as Secretary of State.
The the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI), which has been keeping track of all the changes happening to federal websites like WhiteHouse.gov and State.gov, noticed the new changes immediately after Tillerson took control of the State Department on February 1.
According to Climate Central, the changes started taking place “within a day” of Tillerson being sworn in. Specifically, changes were made to the Office of Global Change web page:
On Jan. 2 the description of the office read:
“The Office of Global Change(OES/EGC) works on a broad range of international climate change issues, under the guidance of the Special Envoy for Climate Change. The United States is taking a leading role by advancing an ever-expanding suite of measures at home and abroad. The President’s Climate Action Plan highlights unprecedented efforts by the United States to reduce carbon pollution, promote clean sources of energy that create jobs, protect communities from the impacts of climate change, and work with partners to lead international climate change efforts. The working partnerships the United States has created or strengthened with other major economies has reinforced the importance of results-driven action both internationally and domestically and are achieving measurable impacts now to help countries reduce their long-term greenhouse gas emissions.”
The page now says:
“The Office of Global Change represents the United States in negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and in many other international forums on climate change, including the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization. The office also leads U.S. government participation in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which assesses scientific and technical information related to climate change. The office is further responsible for coordinating a number of bilateral and regional partnerships on climate change, as well as U.S. foreign assistance related to clean energy, adaptation, and sustainable landscapes.”Under Tillerson’s leadership, Exxon issued several statements that supported the Paris climate agreement. However, Tillerson has not explicitly endorsed the global climate action accord.
Notably deleted from the text was “The United States is taking a leading role by advancing an ever-expanding suite of measures at home and abroad.”
This isn’t surprising, as the White House described participating in domestic and international action on climate change as a “waste of your money.”
President Trump’s proposed budget calls for reducing the State Department budget by $10 billion as well as zero funds for international climate process and funding. Additional cuts include less money towards clean energy innovation and domestic climate programs.
Tillerson has maintained that he believes climate science is “not conclusive” and believes the the U.S.’s role in international climate action should simply be a seat at the table “so we can judge the level of commitment of the other 189 or so countries around the table and again adjust our own course accordingly.”