Rex Tillerson

Tillerson joined ExxonMobil in 1975 and has worked there his entire career, which he has led as CEO since 2006. Tillerson was honored in 2012 with the Kremlin's Order of Friendship in large part for his effort to cement a large 2011 energy deal with Russia, and is seen as unusually close for an American to President Vladimir Putin. Tillerson's position on climate change may be to the left of Trump's. ExxonMobil understood the connection between greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use and the warming climate as early as 1977, and then proceeded to combat the idea recognizing the risk posed to its industry by curtailing fossil fuel use. Only fairly recently did it acknowledge that link publicly, and the company is now on record in support of accepting the established science and identifying solutions to the problem of climate change. The issue of climate change will be a potent one for whoever takes over the State Department, given the long-standing international diplomacy efforts to address the issue. Shortly before this year's election, ExxonMobil issued a statement in support of the sweeping agreement reached in Paris at the end of last year aimed at cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions internationally. Tillerson was confirmed by the Senate on February 1, 2017. 

Read the AAAS letter to Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson.

Why is this department important to the science community?

Science as a diplomatic tool is guided by the overarching goal of using science to build bridges between countries and to promote scientific cooperation as an essential element of foreign policy. The AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy works to support these goals through initiating exchanges, visits, and bilateral activities to put science diplomacy into action, and to provide a forum to identify and define key issues in science diplomacy.