Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Tax Me, Says Exxon Mobil, in Declaring Support for Climate Talks

  • Endorses `meaningful action' to address climate change
  • `Revenue-neutral carbon tax could be a workable policy'

Exxon Mobil Corp., a favorite target of global warming activists, said Wednesday that it’s hopeful for a deal out of the climate-change talks in Paris and still thinks the best solution is a tax on carbon pollution.

As the United Nations negotiations moved into a third day, the world’s biggest oil explorer said in an blog post that it supports “meaningful action to address the risks of climate change” as long as it preserved access to the reliable and affordable energy.

“The long-term objective of climate-change policy should be to reduce the risks of serious harm to humanity and ecosystems at minimum societal cost, while recognizing shared humanitarian necessities,” Exxon Mobil General Counsel Ken Cohen wrote in the post.

In the run-up to the Paris talks that began Nov. 30, Exxon has been under heavy assault by environmentalists and politicians who say it misled the public by promoting uncertainties about climate science. New York State’s attorney general has subpoenaed company records about its research going back decades, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a Rolling Stone interview published Tuesday, said Exxon’s actions would amount to “a betrayal” of humanity if it’s found to have suppressed knowledge about climate risks.

Revenue-Neutral Tax

Exxon has said it made its research public and did nothing wrong. The Irving, Texas-based explorer takes climate change seriously and has taken steps to reduce its own emissions, Cohen said in today’s post.

The most effective solution would be a revenue-neutral tax on greenhouse gas emissions, Cohen wrote, reiterating a position Exxon has held for years.

“Instead of subsidies and mandates that distort markets, stifle innovation, and needlessly raise energy costs, a carbon tax could help create the conditions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a way that spurs new efficiencies and technologies,” he said.

“The revenue-neutral carbon tax could be a workable policy framework for countries around the world.”

Long a hard-line opponent to climate-friendly carbon limits, Exxon began to soften its outlook and embrace the need to curb greenhouse gases in 2006 when Rex Tillerson succeeded Lee Raymond as chairman and CEO. The company’s $35 billion takeover of XTO Energy in 2010 was inspired in part by expectations that stricter climate rules would spur natural gas demand as a replacement for dirtier coal.

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