In a startling statement, Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson publicly disagreed with the President-elect’s position on climate change. While Trump has stated he wants to withdraw from the Paris agreement, and has characterized climate change as an anti-American “hoax,” Tillerson told Congress, “I think it’s important that the United States maintain its seat at the table on the conversations around how to address the threats of climate change, which do require a global response. No one country is going to solve this alone.”

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Tillerson’s position is an interesting one, considering that he’s the former CEO of ExxonMobil, a company that’s been accused of misleading the public on the existence of climate change since the 1960s. In fact, the company continues to fund climate-denial research to this day. Despite this, Tillerson insisted that he believes the “risk of climate change does exist” and that the consequences could be serious enough to “warrant action.”

Related: Americans don’t trust climate change science because of fossil fuel industry’s disinformation

While Tillerson has said Trump is aware of his views and he would be willing to advise the administration to take climate change seriously (perhaps with a bit more caution than environmentalists would like), it’s unclear if this could actually change Trump’s approach in any way. The administration’s other nominees have come out firmly against the very concept of climate change – including Rick Perry, Trump’s proposed head of the Department of Energy, and Scott Pruitt, the pick for head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Although Tillerson appears to grudgingly accept the reality of climate change, that’s no reason for the American public to let our guard down. The would-be Secretary of State did not address whether he believes climate change poses a threat to national security – an opinion held by the nation’s foremost military expert. He also refused to discuss ExxonMobil’s longstanding war against scientific research on the subject, and he would not give a firm answer on whether he would suspend US funding to the UN Green Climate Fund. There’s also the troubling matter of the former exec’s troubling ties to Vladimir Putin, which critics fear could compromise his ability to perform his duties effectively.

Via Mother Jones

Images via William Munoz and Wikimedia Commons