Trump’s top diplomat and oil man grilled over conflict of interest


The repute of Donald Trump’s cabinet is being tested in the U.S. Senate today as his nominee for Secretary of State, former oil executive Rex Tillerson, is facing a review amidst widespread, bipartisan concerns over conflict of interest. As the Senate prepares to test the integrity of Trump’s promise to ‘drain the swamp’ the outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama warned Americans that their economy, children and democracy itself are threatened by politicians who choose to deny science and reason in favour of self-interest and aggrandizement.



Key Points

  • Outgoing U.S. President, businesses and investors warn of the risks posed to prosperity and security by climate change deniers and fossil fuel cronies. According to Obama, denying scientific consensus and putting forward an economic strategy that ignores carbon pollution betrays what it means to be American and could lead to annual losses up to $690 billion in federal revenue. More than 600 U.S. businesses and investors, employing 1.8 million people and responsible for over $2 trillion in assets, echoed the outgoing President’s concerns, demanding that Trump and his team don’t attempt to hinder the decarbonisation of the economy and the Paris climate deal.
  • Rex Tillerson the nominee for Secretary of State and former Exxon CEO is facing a Senate grilling over conflict of interests as fossil fuel firms tighten grip on U.S. democracy. Tillerson will receive a $175 million payoff from oil major Exxon, a company that skirted U.S. sanctions to do business in Iran, Syria, and Sudan under his watch, and whose charitable arm gave over $6.5 million between 2008 and 2015 to groups that deny burning fossil fuels is causing global warming, despite knowing the human consequences of these lies. Both Republicans and Democrats have raised serious concerns that Tillerson’s past actions, his deep ties to the oil industry, and ongoing litigation could impair his ability to put the security of the American people first.
  • John Kerry urges people to forge ahead with the clean energy transition – not to be sidetracked by decision-makers in the pocket of vested interests. The outgoing Secretary of State’s remarks this week highlight the need to increasingly back businesses that are driving decarbonisation in the power market, and the importance of supporting State level legislation alongside renewable energy expansion. The race is on and no other countries are waiting for the U.S. to play catch-up, just last week China announced it will spend $360 billion to boost its renewables market at home and today major oil producing state The United Arab Emirates announced a similar investment worth $163 billion, the U.S. has no time to lose.






  • “The mounting economic and scientific evidence leave me confident that trends toward a clean energy economy that have emerged during my presidency will continue and that the economic opportunity for our country to harness that trend will only grow.” – Barack Obama, outgoing president, United States of America
  • “If we refuse to get sidetracked by those who cannot see beyond the outmoded and downright dangerous energy sources of the past and if we respond boldly to the urgency of this moment then we will unlock the enormous potential of this opportunity.” – John Kerry, outgoing Secretary of State, United States of America
  • “Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk. But the right action now will create jobs and boost US competitiveness. We pledge to do our part, in our own operations and beyond, to realize the Paris Agreement’s commitment of a global economy that limits global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.” – 600+ major US businesses and investors including the Gap, Hewlett Packard, Hilton, HP, IKEA, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, Mars, Starbucks, and Unilever.
  • “The U.S. is already slipping well behind China in the race to secure a larger share of the booming clean energy market. With the in-coming administration talking up coal and gas, prospective domestic policy changes don’t bode well. If the U.S. is serious about stimulating manufacturing-based growth, clean energy is not a sector to turn away from.” – Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Finance Studies Australasia at IEEFA.