Sunday, August 14, 2016

Exxon touts carbon tax to oil industry

Exxon touts carbon tax to oil industry
Wall St. Journal, 30 June 2016, by Amy Harder and Bradley Olson

This article (paywalled, unfortunately, but the WSJ has limited free access for 24 hours) discusses a recent shift in Exxon's public stance on climate change, from tacit support for a revenue-neutral carbon tax (since in their view other climate policy actions would be even worse) to actual public advocacy of such a tax, both on Capital Hill and in trade associations.  The article notes that Exxon is under strong pressure to show more positive action regarding climate change, since it is under investigation for conspiring to cover up scientific research related to climate change.  It also mentions that Exxon has a financial motive for supporting a carbon tax, since such a tax would hurt coal even more than oil and natural gas.  In any case, with this shift Exxon joins European energy companies such as Royal Dutch Shell and BP that have been advocating for a price on carbon for some years, whereas other U.S. energy companies, such as Chevron, continue to publicly oppose a carbon tax.

My take: As the article notes (and it is nice to see this sort of balanced coverage in the WSJ), this shift actually serves Exxon's interests in various ways; it is not likely that Exxon has suddenly decided to value the fate of humanity over its own bottom line.  However, I think this angle could be taken considerably further.  The Union of Concerned Scientists has been fighting Exxon tooth and nail, as detailed on their blog (, and Exxon has by no means given up the fight.  At the same time that Exxon is talking a good game regarding carbon taxation, it continues to fund misinformation on climate change and to deny its past coverups of climate science (  So it is difficult to see these shifts and maneuvers by Exxon as anything but self-interested greenwashing.

1 comment:

  1. For more on Exxon's continuing funding of denialists and misinformation campaigns, see