Tillerson's first post-Paris remarks: US will reduce emissions

Tillerson's first post-Paris remarks: US will reduce emissions
© Getty

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that the United States is likely to continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions despite exiting the Paris climate change agreement.

The brief statement during a photo op with Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes at the State Department was Tillerson’s first public statement about the Paris deal since President Trump announced Thursday that he would withdraw the United States from the pact.

The former CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. supported staying in the Paris accord. But opponents of the pact such as Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt and White House strategist Stephen Bannon won out and convinced Trump to exit.

ADVERTISEMENT
“It was a policy decision,” Tillerson said in response to a reporter’s question about the exit.

“I think it’s important everyone recognizes the United States has a terrific record on reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions. It’s something I think we can be proud of and that was done in the absence of the Paris agreement. I don’t think we’re going to change our ongoing efforts to reduce those emissions in the future either,” he continued.

“So, hopefully people can keep it in perspective.”

The United States emitted 6.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2015, the most recent year of available data. That’s lower than every year since 1993, with the exception of 2012.

The drop in emissions is due largely to natural gas and renewable energy replacing coal-fired power plants.

In addition to exiting the Paris deal, Trump has started the process of rolling back nearly all of former President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaTrump military transgender ban prompts protests EPA transition official dismisses climate science strategy as 'silliness' Microsoft’s misguided broadband plan endangers Americans MORE’s climate change policies, including limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry.

Tillerson’s department is responsible for managing international treaties and agreements like the Paris agreement. Under Obama, Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryObama cyber czar: Trump State Department needs cybersecurity office Kerry on Trump’s military transgender ban: ‘We’re better than this’ Senators who have felt McCain's wrath talk of their respect for him MORE was the main point person for the agreement.

But Tillerson didn’t attend Thursday’s White House ceremony, at which both Trump and Pruitt spoke.

The State Department did not release any statement after the event, in contrast with numerous other departments, including the departments of Energy, Interior, Education, and Housing and Urban Development.