CreditLawrence Jackson for The New York Times
WASHINGTON — The fall of Rex W. Tillerson from the Trump administration — on Tuesday, Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, was tapped to replace him as secretary of state — removes one the last remaining presidential advisers whose views on global warming are in line with the rest of the world.
Mr. Pompeo has questioned the scientific consensus that human activity is changing the climate, and he has strongly opposed the Paris Agreement, a pact among nearly 200 nations to address climate change. He told Congress last year during his Senate confirmation hearing for the C.I.A. post that the notion of climate change as a top national security threat was “ignorant, dangerous and absolutely unbelievable.”
Mr. Tillerson, despite his decades-long career in the oil industry — a major contributor to planet-warming pollution — holds that rising global temperatures spurred by human activity pose significant risks.
The change in leadership at the State Department all but cements an increasingly hard-line opposition to the idea of climate change at the highest levels of the United States government. Mr. Tillerson’s departure follows the resignation announcement last week of Gary Cohn, the president’s top economic adviser, and the departure last month of George David Banks, a senior adviser to the president on international energy issues. All three had argued to keep the United States in the Paris agreement.
With the three departures, “the moderating forces on climate change within the administration are all but gone, the ones that matter,” said Sarah Ladislaw, an energy analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
Mr. Pompeo, a Tea Party Republican from Kansas, won praise Tuesday from those who deny the human influence on the climate. Mr. Trump announced Mr. Tillerson’s departure in a tweet on Monday.
“He’s a great climate skeptic and he’s not going to be in favor of the Paris treaty as Tillerson was. I think it’s awesome,” said Steven J. Milloy, who runs a website, JunkScience.com, aimed at undermining climate science and who worked on the Environmental Protection Agency transition team for the Trump administration. “The administration seems to be shedding its Paris climate supporters.”
Officials at the State Department and the C.I.A. did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Last year, Mr. Tillerson stood as a lonely voice in the administration’s inner circle urging Mr. Trump not to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which calls for every country in the world to put forth plans to cut emissions that contribute to warming. Mr. Tillerson’s efforts were unsuccessful, and Mr. Trump announced that the United States would go it alone as the only nation not party to the accord.
The United States cannot formally withdraw until 2020, and Mr. Trump has since made conflicting statements about whether he might reconsider his decision. In a recent interview, Mr. Banks said he believed the president remained open to rejoining the deal. But others have noted that Mr. Trump appears to be hardening against it, at least in his public remarks.
CreditPool photo by Jonathan Ernst
“We knocked out the Paris climate accord. Would have been a disaster. Would have been a disaster for our country,” Mr. Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington last month, calling it a “totally disastrous, job-killing” agreement.
As a Kansas member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Pompeo called the Paris Agreement a “costly burden” to America. He has also questioned the scientific consensus that human activity is causing the planet to warm to dangerous levels.
“There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change,” Mr. Pompeo said in a 2013 interview on C-Span. “There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.”
Asked again about the science during his C.I.A. confirmation hearing last year, he replied that he stood by his past statements. He also said that, “Frankly, as the director of C.I.A., I would prefer today not to get into the details of the climate debate and science.”
Mr. Pompeo’s top funder during his years in Congress was Koch Industries, the petroleum and chemicals conglomerate owned by the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, who have lobbied for rollbacks in environmental regulation and other libertarian causes.
Mr. Pompeo took $375,000 from Koch Industries between 2009 and 2017 and almost $1.2 million from oil and gas companies over all, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, making him one of the top recipients of oil money in the House of Representatives.
In the 1990s, the Kochs’ venture capital arm also invested in an aeronautics company that Mr. Pompeo started, and later sold, in Wichita, Kan., which is also home to Koch Industries.
In Congress, Mr. Pompeo backed changes that would benefit the Kochs’ business interests, including eliminating funding for a nationwide registry of greenhouse gas polluters. He also frequently accused the Obama administration of having a “radical climate agenda.”
Since taking the helm of the C.I.A., though, Mr. Pompeo has not spoken publicly about climate change. The agency did help put forward a Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community that states that climate change contributes to national security threats.
“I can only hope that in the year of being C.I.A. director, some of that information has found its way up to him,” said Andrew Light, a former State Department climate change negotiator under President Barack Obama. Mr. Light said he did not believe Mr. Pompeo was coming to his new role with an “ax to grind” against climate change, but said it was also not likely to be on his agenda.
If he is confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Pompeo will shape the State Department’s negotiating position at a key United Nations climate change meeting this year in Poland, where nations are expected to discuss their plans for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Hiroko Tabuchi contributed from New York.