Exxon Mobil, BP and Shell Sign on for Carbon Tax Plan

Though that was the misleading headline from the right-wing Daily Caller on Tuesday after it was reported that a plan by the Climate Leadership Council (CLC) to create a tax on carbon emissions would receive endorsement from ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, and other large corporations-climate justice campaigners were quick on Tuesday to distance themselves from the proposal which they characterize as a scam and a distraction.

Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC are among nearly a dozen companies joining the Climate Leadership Council, a new organization that advocates replacing many environmental regulations with a simplified tax on businesses that release carbon into the atmosphere.

"A carbon tax set at $40 per ton would achieve substantially greater reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions than all of the regulation now on the table", Schultz and Summers wrote.

Many prominent US corporations, opinion leaders and NGOs have announced their support of the Climate Leadership Council's (CLC) "carbon dividends" proposal.

Members of the council include Michael Bloomberg, former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, hedge-fund magnate Ray Dalio and Harvard economist Larry Summers, a former Obama economic adviser.

"We acknowledged long ago that climate change is real and that lowering emissions is both a social imperative and an economic opportunity", GM said in a statement.

-Jamie Henn, 350.orgPut forward earlier this year by former secretary of state James Baker and other Republicans, the CLC plan is based on a market-driven scheme that would scrap many emission-reducing regulations while instituting a fuel tax that would be passed on to consumers. The proposal includes a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, the return of tax revenues to all Americans in the form of monthly dividend payments, and the rollback of some climate regulations, among other elements.

The proposed dividend could total as much as $2,000 a year for a family of four, the Council estimates.

President Donald Trump said this month he would withdraw the United States from the Paris accord which he said would undermine the USA economy and weaken American national sovereignty. In 2009, the company's chief executive, Rex W. Tillerson, who is now secretary of state, called carbon taxes "a more direct, a more transparent and a more effective approach" than a cap-and-trade proposal Congress was considering at the time.

A carbon tax - particular a revenue neutral carbon tax, such as this one - has always been seen as a potential meeting ground for anti-regulation Republicans and pro-action Democrats. "We are hopeful that this proposal will foster a dialogue on the need for climate solutions with stakeholders of every political stripe", says Mark Tercek, CEO of the Conservancy.

"It may take another presidential election for this to be fully enacted", said Ted Halstead, who leads the Climate Leadership Council. Incidentally, The Nature Conservancy was one of two environmental groups that are known to have gotten a meeting with Administrator Pruitt since he started at the EPA. "In bringing together major companies with prominent thinkers and policy experts across the political spectrum in support of this proposal, the CLC is delivering a clear message to elected officials in Washington: putting a price on carbon is a powerful tool for unleashing markets to strengthen the USA economy and rapidly reduce carbon emissions".

The energy industry is debating the role it will play in the transition to a low-carbon world as investors raise questions about the viability of future spending amid attempts to limit global warming.

"Exxon is signing onto this carbon tax proposal because they know it's dead-on-arrival, but hope it will distract from the ongoing investigations into whether the company lied to the public and its investors about climate change".

  • Carolyn Briggs