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The Numbers Behind Exxon’s Support for a Carbon Tax

A $40-per-ton tax on CO₂ is unlikely to impact the company’s oil business

Exxon Mobil Corp. signage is reflected in a puddle at a gas station in Nashport, Ohio.

Exxon Mobil Corp. signage is reflected in a puddle at a gas station in Nashport, Ohio.

Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg

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Exxon Mobil Corp. is no longer the most valuable energy company in the U.S. That distinction now goes to NextEra Energy Inc., the world’s largest provider of wind and solar power. Exxon isn’t even the most valuable American oil company—as of this week that's Chevron Corp. What was once the world’s largest company is no longer part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Exxon is down but definitely not out. As Bloomberg News reported this week, Exxon projected a significant rise in its own CO₂ projections over the next five years. The carbon forecasts reflect growth plans that have been thrown into distress by the pandemic, and its figures on future emissions hadn’t been disclosed to investors. (Exxon has said the forecasts were preliminary and have already been changed.)