Sunday, June 26, 2016

At Least 150 Companies Prep For Carbon Prices

At Least 150 Companies Prep For Carbon Prices
USA TODAY, 15 September 2014, by Wendy Koch

This article from 2014 discusses a study from the CDP, a UK charity, that states that at least 150 companies around the world are incorporating the possibility of carbon pricing into their business plans.  The CDP works with companies to help them disclose their carbon emissions, and surveys them annually regarding their policies surrounding emissions and climate change.  This study was released just before the big climate summit in NYC in 2014, so the article mentions various related topics – the World Bank’s support for carbon pricing, U.S. inaction and opposition to carbon pricing, the relative success of carbon pricing in British Columbia, the existence of the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme and the Northeast's RGGI, China’s announcement of an intention to institute cap-and-trade, and EPA actions on coal plant emissions – without much substantive discussion.

My take: There is no doubt that companies try to anticipate future changes to the legal and regulatory environment, and momentum does seem to be building behind carbon pricing in recent years, so I don’t doubt the basic premise of the article.  However, there is certainly cause for skepticism regarding the more specific claims of individual companies cited by the CDP’s report.  Exxon is repeatedly listed in the article as one of the companies that now factors a future carbon price into their operations; indeed, they claim to use a price of $80 per ton CO2 in their internal bookkeeping.  Given what we know about Exxon’s support of climate denialism, their decades of deception regarding their own research into climate change, etc., that simply reeks of greenwashing.  Indeed, since all of the statistics gathered by the CDP are voluntarily disclosed by companies and cannot be checked, greenwashing is probably a major source of bias for the report as a whole.  Microsoft, for example, apparently decided to assume a future price on carbon – but the price they chose is $6/ton.  That is not carbon pricing, that is an insult to our intelligence.

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