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In December 1999, Tillerson became Executive Vice President of ExxonMobil Development Company. [He] was named Senior Vice President of Exxon Mobil Corporation in August 2001, and was elected President of the Corporation and member of the board of directors on March 1, 2004. He assumed his current position January 1, 2006. He is a member of the Executive Committee and is a former Chairman of the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group representing corporate 400 members involved in all aspects of the oil natural gas industry. He is also a trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank founded during the cold war that focuses on issues related to U.S. defense policy and international security.
- Member of the National Petroleum Council, a federally chartered and privately funded advisory committee that was established by the Secretary of the Interior in 1946 at the request of President Harry S. Truman, which functions now under the U.S. Department of Energy as a Oil and Natural Gas Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Energy;
- Member of the Business Roundtable, "an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies with nearly $6 trillion in annual revenues and more than 13 million employees;"
- Honorary Trustee of the Business Council for International Understanding, a membership organization of more than 150 multinational corporations that provides opportunities for "senior business executives to interact with heads of state/government, cabinet ministers, and senior government officials;"
- Member of the Emergency Committee for American Trade, a membership organization of American "manufacturing, financial, processing, merchandising, and publishing" corporations whose "combined exports run into the tens of billions of dollars" and whose "annual worldwide sales exceed $1.5 trillion," that actively supports "legislative and other measures that facilitate U.S. trade and investment" and opposes "changes in U.S. trade and tax law that unfairly penalize their competitiveness in world markets. ECAT members support the continued expansion of the multilateral trading system to provide new opportunities for farmers, manufacturers, and service providers, and to improve compliance with agreements to protect intellectual property rights. They also encourage business people overseas to support policies that assure fairer treatment of American goods in foreign markets and to oppose restrictions on U.S. companies."
Tillerson and the Climate Crisis
Tillerson has acknowledged that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are causing the planet to warm up. However, he asserts that it is a simple "engineering problem" with "engineering solutions" and that humans should simply adapt to - not prevent - the climate crisis.
- "TILLERSON: Well, let me -- let me say that we have studied that issue and continue to study it as well. We are and have been long-time participants in the IPCC panels. We author many of the IPCC subcommittee papers, and we peer-review most of them. So we are very current on the science, our understanding of the science, and importantly -- and this is where I'm going to take exception to something you said -- the competency of the models to predict the future. We've been working with a very good team at MIT now for more than 20 years on this area of modeling the climate, which, since obviously it's an area of great interest to you, you know and have to know the competencies of the models are not particularly good.
- "Now you can plug in assumptions on many elements of the climate system that we cannot model -- and you know what they all are. We cannot model aerosols; we cannot model clouds, which are big, big factors in how the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere affect temperatures at surface level. The models we need -- and we are putting a lot of money supporting people and continuing to work on these models, try and become more competent with the models. But our ability to predict, with any accuracy, what the future's going to be is really pretty limited.
- "So our approach is we do look at the range of the outcomes and try and understand the consequences of that, and clearly there's going to be an impact. So I'm not disputing that increasing CO2 emissions in the atmosphere is going to have an impact. It'll have a warming impact. The -- how large it is is what is very hard for anyone to predict. And depending on how large it is, then projects how dire the consequences are. [emphasis added]
- "As we have looked at the most recent studies coming -- and the IPCC reports, which we -- I've seen the drafts; I can't say too much because they're not out yet. But when you predict things like sea level rise, you get numbers all over the map. If you take a -- what I would call a reasonable scientific approach to that, we believe those consequences are manageable. They do require us to begin to exert -- or spend more policy effort on adaptation. What do you want to do if we think the future has sea level rising four inches, six inches? Where are the impacted areas, and what do you want to do to adapt to that?
- "And as human beings as a -- as a -- as a species, that's why we're all still here. We have spent our entire existence adapting, OK? So we will adapt to this. Changes to weather patterns that move crop production areas around -- we'll adapt to that. It's an engineering problem, and it has engineering solutions. And so I don't -- the fear factor that people want to throw out there to say we just have to stop this, I do not accept. [emphasis added]
- "I do believe we have to -- we have to be efficient and we have to manage it, but we also need to look at the other side of the engineering solution, which is how are we going to adapt to it. And there are solutions. It's not a problem that we can't solve."
When pressed again by the moderator, he replied:
- "TILLERSON: No, I think it's -- I think it's a great challenge, but I think it's a question back to priorities. And I think, as I just described based on our understanding of the system and the models and the science and that there are engineering solutions to adapting, that we think it's solvable.
- "And I think there are much more pressing priorities that we as a -- as a human being race and society need to deal with. There are still hundreds of millions, billions of people living in abject poverty around the world. They need electricity. They need electricity they can count on, that they can afford. They need fuel to cook their food on that's not animal dung. There are more people's health being dramatically affected because they could -- they don't even have access to fossil fuels to burn. They'd love to burn fossil fuels because their quality of life would rise immeasurably, and their quality of health and the health of their children and their future would rise immeasurably. You'd save millions upon millions of lives by making fossil fuels more available to a lot of the part of the world that doesn't have it, and do it in the most efficient ways, using the most efficient technologies we have today.
- "And we continue, and have for many, many years, talked on our energy outlook about the importance of ongoing energy efficiency, continuing to carry out economic activity with a lower energy intensity. And we've been very good as a country at doing that. We've been very good globally at doing that. And there's more potential in it."
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- Exxon Mobil CEO’s salary hits $22.4M,"Bizjournals.com." April 13, 2009.
- Private Enterprise Board, ALEC website, accessed July 7, 2011.
- "Rex Tillerson", Expert. Center for Strategic and International Studies. CSIS.org. Accessed July 9, 2011.
- Center for Strategic and International Studies, "Research focus," organization website, accessed May 2009.
- National Petroleum Council, "About NPC," organization website, accessed June 25, 2011
- Business Roundtable, "About Us," organization website, accessed June 25, 2011
- Business Council for International Understanding, "About BCIU," organization website, accessed June 25, 2011
- Emergency Committee for American Trade, "About ECAT," organization website, accessed June 25, 2011
- Senior Executives,"ExxonMobil"
- Rex Tillerson, "The New North American Energy Paradigm: Reshaping the Future," Speech given to the Council on Foreign Relations, January 27, 2012, Accessed January 19, 2013.