Rex Tillerson on Climate Change and the Implementation of a Carbon Tax

With the American withdrawal from the December 2015 Paris Agreement, a climate agreement that has been ratified by 147 of the 197 Parties to the Convention (including the United States which ratified the Agreement on September 3, 2016), it is interesting to look back in time to October 1, 2009 when former ExxonMobil CEO and current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, gave a speech to the Economic Club of Washington D.C. about the implementation of a carbon tax.

Here is a five minute excerpt from his speech:

Here is a transcript of the pertinent section:

These costs and consequences inherent to cap and trade schemes have led many policy experts and economists to prefer another course of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  That other option is a revenue neutral carbon tax.  I know that’s hard for a politician to say so we’ve given them a new name; they can call it a “Refundable Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fee”.  Now, as a businessman, I have to take a deep breath every time I talk about this subject because it is very difficult for me to speak favourably about any new tax.  So, I hope you take it as an indication of how serious we think the issue is.  A revenue neutral carbon tax, though, has the advantage of being well-focussed for achieving our society’s shared goals of reducing emissions over the long-term.” (my bold)

Let’s look back to May 13, 2016 to see what Donald Trump had to say about the implementation of a carbon tax:

.@thehill Your story about me & the carbon tax is absolutely incorrect—it is just the opposite. I will not support or endorse a carbon tax!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2016

It seems rather odd that a former CEO of the world’s largest oil company and an obvious emitter of significant quantities of greenhouse gases would have a pro-carbon tax stance whereas his current boss and the man who selected him for the position of Secretary of State made it quite clear that he would not support or endorse a carbon tax.  Not only that, but Mr. Tillerson’s comments lead us to believe that greenhouse gas emissions are a very serious issue that needs to be dealt with, again in sharp contrast to his boss who has said this about global warming:

Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee – I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2013

…and this:

NBC News just called it the great freeze – coldest weather in years. Is our country still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2014

…and this:

Give me clean, beautiful and healthy air – not the same old climate change (global warming) bullshit! I am tired of hearing this nonsense.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2014

At least one of these two men seems to be consistent in his sentiments.  You have to give him credit for his consistency whether his viewpoint is right or wrong. 

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