Three heavyweight oil companies have come out in support of the Climate Leadership Council’s plan to tax carbon dioxide emissions. With a full page newspaper ad on Tuesday, Exxon, BP, and Shell announced their support for the plan alongside other large companies including General Motors, PepsiCo, Unilever, and Johnson & Johnson.

The plan for a 40 dollar fee on every ton of CO2 was put forth by the Climate Leadership Council, which includes several senior Republicans, in search of a “free-market, limited government” approach to combating climate change. The ad lists Exxon, along with environmental groups Conservation International and the Nature Conservancy, as founding members of the plan.

The ad calls for a “consensus climate solution that bridges partisan divides, strengthens our economy and protects our shared environment.”

According to Mark Tercek, Nature Conservancy’s chief executive:

“Climate change is already impacting our communities, our economy and our environment and those impacts will continue to grow and become worse if we don’t act now. We can’t afford to wait to have these conversations.”

Some environmental advocates, however, considered the move a hollow PR stunt by fossil fuel giants that have long ignored the science of climate change, or even sought to actively undermine it.

“ExxonMobil will try to dress this up as climate activism, but its key agenda is protecting executives from legal accountability for climate pollution and fraud. A nicely worded public relations exercise is no cure for decades of deception,” according to Greenpeace USA senior climate campaigner Naomi Ages.

The Climate Leadership Council includes several Republican elder statesmen, including former secretaries of state James Baker and George Schultz, as well as former treasury secretary Hank Paulson. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and physicist Stephen Hawking are also members of the council.

Their proposal features a 40 dollar tax on each ton of carbon dioxide emitted, rising over time to encourage the market to shift to clean energy such as solar and wind. The proceeds from the tax would be redirected to the public via “carbon dividends,” which the council estimated would generate 2,000 dollars a year for a family of four.

However, the plan also would include a rollback of the Environmental Protection agency’s authority over carbon emissions, and would repeal Obama’s clean power plan.

40 countries, including China, South Africa, and most European countries, have instituted a carbon tax or are planning to do so.

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