Exxon Mobil gives $1 mn to lobby for US carbon tax

October 10, 2018 by John Biers
US President Donald Trump has brushed aside concerns about climate change, pulling the United States out of the Paris climate agreement last year

Exxon Mobil said Tuesday it would spend $1 million to support a US lobbying campaign behind a carbon tax, boosting an initiative that faces long odds in Washington in the near-term

The US oil giant, which has long faced criticism on climate change, committed the funds to Americans for Carbon Dividends, a new group co-chaired by former Sens Trent Lott, a conservative Republican and John Breaux, a conservative Democrat, that supports a "gradually rising carbon fee."

Under the scheme, which was developed under former Republicans Secretaries of State James Baker and George Shultz, dividend checks from the carbon tax would be returned to American taxpayers. Supporters have characterized the measure as a free market-oriented response to climate change.

"We've been supportive of a revenue-neutral price on carbon for a decade," said Exxon Mobil spokesman Scott Silvestri.

"Applying a uniform cost across the economy is consistent with our principles on how to manage the risk of climate change."

News of Exxon Mobil's support came one day after the UN's Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change warned that global policy makers must take swift action to avoid a calamitous rise in temperatures in the coming decades.

US President Donald Trump has brushed aside concerns about , taking the monumental step in 2017 of pulling the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.

Long game

Supporters of US climate policy are playing a "long game" until macro dynamics improve, said Andrew Logan director of the oil and gas program at Ceres, an activist shareholder group focused on sustainability.

"Clearly we're at a point where we're some time off from seeing anything actually enacted," he said.

"We are at a stage where getting large companies who have traction with the right involved in the conversation is very positive," Logan said. "What Exxon is doing could have some role in normalizing the idea of climate policy for Republicans."

The move is the latest shift for Exxon Mobil, which for years cast doubt on scientific findings on climate and repeatedly fought off shareholder proposals aimed at forcing action.

But Exxon Mobil has been shifting course, joining the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative earlier this year and setting targets to reduce emissions from Canadian oil sands.

"There's been a lot of investor pressure for Exxon to be more public about it support for a carbon tax and to actually put some resources behind it," said Logan, who called the investment "encouraging."

But Mary Boeve, executive director of the activist 350.org, called Exxon Mobil's latest step more "smoke and mirrors."

"Exxon wants a low price on to keep its business afloat and box out more effective mitigation strategies, including holding fossil fuel companies legally accountable for the damage they've done to our planet," said Boeve, who called for a "sweeping" transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy.

Explore further: Exxon seeks to block subpoena over climate-change documents

Related Stories

Carbon tax gets renewed attention but still faces resistance

October 9, 2018

Advocates of taxing fossil fuels believe their position is stronger now because of an alarming new report on climate change and a Nobel Prize awarded to by two American economists, but neither development is likely to break ...

Oil giants endorse carbon tax after Trump's Paris exit

June 20, 2017

Major oil producers, including for the first time ExxonMobil, expressed support on Tuesday for a new US carbon tax, which could help cut emissions despite President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

Exxon Mobil's about-face on climate disclosure

December 19, 2017

Exxon Mobil Corp. has vowed to do a better job in disclosing the risks it faces from climate change starting "in the near future" after bucking pressure to do that for years.

Exxon: Highly unlikely world limits fossil fuels

April 1, 2014

On the same day the world's scientists issued their latest report on climate change and the risks it poses to society, America's biggest oil and gas company said the world's climate policies are "highly unlikely" to stop ...

Recommended for you

When a defect might be beneficial

February 19, 2019

In the quest to design more efficient solar cells and light-emitting diodes (LEDs), a team of engineers has analyzed different types of defects in the semiconductor material that enables such devices to determine if and how ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.