ExxonMobil employee turned full-time carbon price advocate on ExxonMobil CEO being considered for Secretary of State

about 2 years ago

As a former ExxonMobil employee and now full-time advocate for a price on carbon, the recent announcement that Rex Tillerson, outgoing CEO of ExxonMobil, is being floated as potential Secretary of State for the incoming Trump Administration was compelling.

It'd be a curious pick... a CEO of any O&G major will certainly have a very global perspective and lots of negotiation experience. I was generally pretty satisfied with Mr. Tillerson all 8 yrs I worked with EM.

Now, most of my "climate friends" are already freaking out over this, and fair enough - the perception is bad and it furthers the concern we all share about an overly-cozy relationship between industry and government.

That said, as a former EM employee (and admittedly probably biased), I am optimistic for a few reasons.

Rex really brought a lot of change to a company that is notoriously slow to do anything. Speaking specifically on climate, remember that it was under Rex that ExxonMobil:

    1. in 2007, stopped funding a large number of organizations whose sole purpose was climate denial (yes, I know they are still a member of groups like ALEC - but there are many other reasons for that),
    2. later that year, FINALLY issued a position that climate change was a real risk,
    3. in 2009, formally adopted revenue-neutral carbon tax as the company's official position,
    4. has, based on evidence we've seen, over the last year stepped up its advocacy for this position pretty heavily, and
    5. after Trump's election, Tweeted out (Trump's favorite communication platform) its firm support for the Paris negotiations.

If you support revenue neutral carbon pricing (aka Carbon Fee and Dividend), this could be an opportunity. Who better has a chance of convincing Trump to act on climate than his former-EM-CEO SS?

Of course this could also be a pipe-dream. But, we need to see the best in people and support them when they do things with which we agree. If Rex is the pick, let's encourage him to bring some of his climate-policy-reforms to the White House!

-Peter Bryn is currently the Conservative Director for Citizens' Climate Lobby