Monday, December 21, 2015

"Exxon hasn't issued a detailed policy position addressing these proposals"

Another nice article from Inside Climate News on Exxon, this time on whether the company's alleged support of a carbon tax is meaningful or just a way to oppose other regulation of greenhouse gases. As ICN demonstrates, Exxon won't say what kind of tax it supports, it hasn't supported past attempts at carbon tax legislation, and didn't join other oil giants in calling for a price for carbon at COP 21.

The fact Exxon hasn't laid out what it would support is more than enough to determine whether its "support" means anything. Even if it did take that step, there would then be the question of what it does to make that tax happen. Short of putting some of its mighty lobbying muscle behind carbon tax proposals, it seems like the support would be pretty meaningless.

It would be interesting to see if Exxon took any position on the carbon taxes in Alberta and British Columbia (I didn't find anything after a brief search). They did say negative things about the carbon tax in Australia when it was still in place.

UPDATE:  see the comments. Exxon's Canadian subsidiary seems reasonable in Alberta. OTOH the carbon tax there had some complicated financial relief measures for energy producers, so it comes down to the details.

12 comments:

Unknown said...

Imperial Oil is Canada's arm of ExxonMobil. They made a submission to the climate panel, as well as many others worth fishing through. They're all available here:

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B1whOKweyfKHfndDdUpxYXlQdUF0MGhSM25jR3RuLXppLU01NXlMcDFqR2pJZHpkSmo2T2M&usp=drive_web

The below is part of Imperial's submission to the climate panel:

We believe a properly designed, revenue-neutral carbon tax, of which Alberta’s SGER is one kind of example, is a more effective market-based policy option for imposing a cost on carbon than cap-and- trade systems. Properly designed, a revenue-neutral carbon tax:

 Is a more efficient means of reflecting the cost of carbon in all economic decisions, and thus is

more transparent and predictable;

 More easily lends itself to global application;

 Avoids the complexity of building additional carbon security markets;

 Can be implemented through the existing tax infrastructure; and

 Is better-suited for setting a uniform standard to hold all nations accountable.

Russell Seitz said...

"But Exxon has never put its political muscle behind a carbon tax."

Neither have the shareholders the executives serve.

Fernando Leanme said...

I support a carbon tax, but in exchange I also want and end to mandates and subsidies. As chairman Xi says "let the market rule, and may we all get rich".

john Mruzik said...

OT, but humans are perfectly capable of fucking this up. But I'm a glass half empty kind of guy. Other civilizations before 1977 would perish with a dinosaur killer.Earth at 1900 nothing, 1955, they might have seen it coming but could do shit.But now? Some Republican would say that it is too expensive.( Sorry I am a simple country doctor who likes to lurk on your website.)

Ken Fabian said...

I'm very doubtful of the sincerity of major fossil fuel companies getting involved in developing emissions reductions policies. Claiming to support a carbon tax whilst finding every iteration of one unacceptable can be a tactical exercise in effective carbon tax sabotage.

If the Australian experience is anything to go by having a carbon tax intoduced only to be subsequently undone makes future attempts much more politically difficult. Just getting most of the way through the long process of negotiating an 'acceptable' version of carbon pricing, perhaps with the willing involvement and consultation of major fossil fuel companies as interested parties and constructive corporate citizens and THEN sinking it might be even more effective as a delaying exercise than positioning themselves up front as openly opposed.

Unknown said...

"UPDATE: see the comments. Exxon's Canadian subsidiary seems reasonable in Alberta. OTOH the carbon tax there had some complicated financial relief measures for energy producers, so it comes down to the details."

I think the way I think it works is companies who are higher performers wrt GHGs get some kind of break as part of an incentive (I think it's the first quintile). The others don't. But don't take my word on that.

cRR Kampen said...

"let the market rule, and may we all get rich" - if only the rich count into 'all'. In reality, only the mgt of OCP will get rich.

david lewis said...

Hansen put what many believe, very clearly, back in 2008:

"Special interests have blocked the transition to our renewable energy future. Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil fuel companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, just as tobacco companies discredited the link between smoking and cancer. Methods are sophisticated, including funding to help shape school textbook discussions of global warming.

CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of the long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature."

Hansen's full statement that contained this is here.

Brian said...

I don't think it's absolutely impossible for an oil/gas company to sincerely support a carbon tax. To the extent they're a gas company, they might anticipate a shift from coal to gas, so that's in their interest. As an oil company, to the extent they believe they can be more efficient than their competitors, they might think they'll do fine in the smaller market. Or maybe they just anticipate some type of regulation and would prefer it to be a tax as opposed to red tape.

So I think it's possible to be sincerely supportive, but that's not what Exxon has done.

Bernard J. said...

"As chairman Xi says "let the market rule, and may we all get rich". "

No Gaussian, Poisson, binomial or other mathematical distributions in your universe then?

Russell Seitz said...

Methods are sophisticated, including funding to help shape school textbook discussions of global warming.

Next thing they'll be tapping Greentech funds to stage AAAS and Gordon Conference on Climate Communication.

Where ever will it stop ? Propaganda wars with more than one side ? We're doomed !

hypergeometric said...

While it is possible for a successful, entrenched, and highly profitable company to reform and "reimagine" itself to face an alternative future, the track record of successful companies doing this is not good. There is a litany of examples.

More probably is the scenario where the company feels it cannot ignore its present model of success, any alternative being perceived as being too risky and unproven, and then, when the market changes, it is left in the dust, and withers to a tiny shadow of its former self (e.g., Westinghouse) or simply dies in Chapter 11 or 7. It is displaced by upstarts which have nothing to lose and seek to win in the new circumstances.

Given XOM's dances about this issue in the past, there is no reason why they should be taken at face value. And, if once upon a time they might have wanted to participate in a large scale solution, it seems only sensible to demand from them unconditional good faith actions now proving that they mean it, and are not trying to get into a better negotiating posture or something.