Even Big Oil Wants To Tax Carbon

Bill Scher

Another group of environmental alarmists wants to strangle the economy and kill jobs by slapping a tax on greenhouse gas pollution: oil companies.

Specifically, BP, Shell and the heads of four other Europe-based oil giants published a letter in the Financial Times calling for “decisive action at December’s UN summit … to ensure that the outcome of these talks leads to widespread carbon pricing in all countries.” In a separate letter to the UN, the companies ask for “an international framework that could eventually connect national [carbon pricing] systems.”

These are giant corporations, so they do have an angle: “realising the full and positive impact natural gas can have.” The relatively low-carbon natural gas can come out a winner in any carbon pricing mechanism.

Still, it is a gigantic leap for oil companies to actively be part of the climate solution, and push toward an international regime that would end the ability for fossil fuel companies to pollute the atmosphere for free.

Notably, American-based oil companies like Exxon and Chevron did not sign the letter. They remain in a environmental and political suicide pact with the Republican Party.

But when conservatives charge that capping carbon emissions amounts to a “war” on fossil fuel interests, our friends at BP and Shell have provided a handy retort:

Pricing carbon obviously adds a cost to our production and our products – but carbon pricing policy frameworks will contribute to provide our businesses and their many stakeholders with a clear roadmap
for future investment, a level playing field for all energy sources across geographies and a clear role in securing a more sustainable future.

In short, putting a price on carbon gives corporations certainty, and certainty is what corporations like more than anything.

Moreover, these companies see the writing on the wall: capping carbon is a planetary necessity. They’re better off accepting reality and being in the room so they can shape the deal, instead desperately trying to ward off reality by denying the science.

The same cold reasoning was what brought the insurance and drug lobbies to the Obamacare negotiating table.

If Republicans wanted, they could get on board and get something out of it: say a income tax cut that would offset the revenue raised from carbon pricing.

Or they can remain in the minority of public opinion, fail to be part of the solution, and once again, get nothing at the end.

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