July 06, 2016

#Exxon head-fakes on #climatechange and a #carbontax

Has eXXXonMobil suddenly "gotten religion" about climate change because it's calling for a carbon tax?

Don't you believe it, not for a minute.

Here's the nut graf:
The world's largest oil company wants a simple tax charged on extracted carbon, such as oil and gas, in lieu of complicated regulations or trading schemes that too often create unintended consequences. Exxon chief executive Rex Tillerson also wants the money returned to the public to offset the cost to consumers.
Note the last sentence.

No, what that really does is remove any "bite" from a carbon tax, making it a toothless tiger, hence harmless to Tillerson, eXXXon and the rest of Big Oil.

That's why this:
While Exxon first advocated for a revenue-neutral carbon tax in 2009, the company has recently stepped up lobbying in Washington and around the world. The move was sparked by President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, the world's adoption of the Paris Agreement to fight climate change and the U.S. House of Representatives' resolution to condemn any tax on carbon.
Is both true and trivial.

I don't want to harm the lower and middle classes too much, though.

So, here's the halfway house.

Use this money to fund new tax credits on renewable energy.

Like electric cars.

How about it, Rex?

Again, I'm not looking to penalize consumers, but, to really work, a carbon tax has to have bite. By bite, I mean something similar to sin taxes on booze and cigs.

What if I said the IRS said both you and your brother owed back taxes, but that if you both paid them all off, it would refund his taxes to you and vice versa? You'd think it had a hole in its collective head.

Or, per my sin tax reference above, we know cigarette smokers tilt poor, but we don't rebate excise taxes on each pack of Marlboros.

And, what's the right tax level, with or without a direct rebate?

A Houston-area Green Party Congressional candidate Tweets:
Erm, I'm skeptical of many things without necessarily being cynical, but, it's eXXXon, and the two merge. Note first that a certain Democrat, non-socialist but alleged socialist, was elected President and took office then with Democratic Congressional majorities.

Second, does eXXXon's tax include just carbon, in the narrow sense, or "carbon," in the broad sense, i.e, methane and other greenhouse gases? We know eXXXon has a not-insignificant natural gas portfolio.

Third, does eXXXon favor a carbon tariff as well as tax? That's my stance.

Fourth, the fact that eXXXon's proposal is higher than already in place elsewhere in the developed world makes me more skeptical. Note also that many places with a carbon tax in place do NOT rebate.

I would MUCH prefer $20/ton, no rebate, to eXXXon's idea. I suspect it would be more effective.

And, let's use the money for climate mitigation. Fund electric car purchases. Fund hybrid-drive buses. (GM's Allison division has made them for years; did you know that?) Fund more mass transit in more rural areas.

Beyond that, it's clear that eXXXon's stance on carbon and climate change is just that: a stance, for PR reasons. I agree with Alternet. It seems clear eXXXon has a PR, and a legal strategy of "uncertainty," or hedging the issue, just like Big Tobacco, at whose feet eXXXon and the rest of Big Oil has studied so hard. And, a Green Party Congressional candidate who unskeptically  swallows it should look in the mirror.

Beyond that, Exxon, if it really did care about climate change, could publicly disavow the likes of Lamar Smith at any time. But it doesn't.

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