Despite the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that the country will likely to continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Tillerson issued his first public statement regarding President Trump’s decision during a photo op with Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes at the State Department.
Tillerson advocated remaining in the Paris agreement, but opponents of the accord, including Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt and White House strategist Stephen Bannon, convinced Trump to withdraw.
“It was a policy decision,” Tillerson said in response to question regarding the withdrawal.
“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 asserted.
“So, hopefully people can keep it in perspective.”
The most recent year with available data was 2015, during which the United States emitted 6.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases. With the exception of 2012, those emissions were lower than every year since 1993, the drop being largely attributable to natural gas and renewable energy replacing coal-fired power plants.
In addition to withdrawing from the Paris agreement, Trump has begun revoking most of former President Barack Obama’s policies on climate change such as limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry.
Although Tillerson’s department is responsible for managing international treaties and agreements such as the Paris Accord, he did not attend Thursday’s White House ceremony or release a statement following Trump’s announcement.
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