Exxon Mobil and Carbon Tax


Well it appears that the CEO of the world’s largest oil company, Exxon Mobil, has called for a US carbon tax to help fight climate change. This is a flip-flop of enormous implications and I just can’t stop myself from wondering what’s in it for them.

Over the past year or so, the company has been making excrutiatingly small steps from being outright denialists to becoming sceptically cautious but prior to this, Exxon has flatly refused to recognise climate change. The company has been busy funding scientists from the denialist industry, sabotaging negotiations and basically doing anything it could to prevent the world from fighting climate change and this call for a carbon tax is a complete about-face.

Rex Tillerson is the name of the CEO guy involved. He said in a speech recently that . . . a more direct, a more transparent and a more effective approach is needed to curtail greenhouse gases. But some would argue that it’s simply a public image exercise and he is actually playing a safe card because he knows damn well that US politicians would run a mile from any proposals to increase taxes.

Greenpeace has, for years, been involved in the war against Exxon and all the other oil giants who would much prefer us to keep raiding the planet and making them richer than support measures that will fight climate change and, crucially for the oil-heads, restrain their activities. I wondered what the Greenpeace reaction would be to Exxon’s change of heart and of course, it was cynical to say the least. According to the Independent article linked to above, they believe that Tillerson’s suggestion is a smokescreen for its attempts to slow down the switch to alternative fuels. Well it’s certainly hard to believe that there’s no self-interest involved, no corporate greed or anything.

Exxon argues that a carbon tax would change consumer behaviour and boost the race to find renewables. Well seeing as Exxon has refused to meaningly fund any research into renewables for decades, it’s a bit hard to take them seriously now, but what would be good is for the oil-heads at Exxon to change their behaviour.

Top and bottom is that Exxon has been Toasting the Earth for years and their shareholders have been getting fat from it. But I suppose that any efforts by them to shake off their anti-environmentalist reputation and build a greener image should be seized upon and they should be encouraged . . . no, strongly persuaded . . . no, forced to go further . . . much further.

About Earthie

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9 Responses to Exxon Mobil and Carbon Tax

  1. matt says:

    Interestingly Exxon are one of the top ten companies that are currently cash rich. In other words they aren’t saddled by debt problems. There are very few companies around like that at the moment. So, they have the cash to research and invest into alternatives. They’ve simply chosen not to. I think they’re seeing the writing on the wall with Obama’s determination to create jobs in industries dealing with alternative fuels and renewables. The Exxon murmurings are saying, ‘Ah, yes, well, um, we would actually like some of that business Mr Obama because we like subsidized government money business. All greed is good in the Exxon books.

  2. the Grit says:

    Hi earthpal,

    Actually, what this means is that the Exxon higher ups have run the numbers, based on our next President Obama’s public statements, and figured out that they’ll be better off financially with the Government shouldering the expense of collecting another tax, rather than their company having to write off enough “carbon credits” to stay in business under some cap and trade scheme. Considering that there is no man made global warming, or in the last few years any global warming at all, this is a very wise business move, since it puts the burden on elected officials, who may, we can hope, be forced to face reality by public pressure.

    Hi Matt,

    Actually, Exxon and all the other Big Oil companies invest large sums of money into alternative energy research. Keep in mind that, when it works, one of the benefits of large scale capitalism is that huge companies have the luxury of having sufficient resources to make marginal investments in areas that have questionable potential returns. The people who run these giant companies may not be the smartest of us, but, unlike the fat cats on Wall Street, they know they’re looking at hard times because of the Global Warming Scam and other political efforts to screw them, and the rest of us, so they’ve given a bit of consideration to diversifying their interests. So I think that when the Government makes the big move to drive our civilization back to the stone age, the Big Oil companies will become the Big Wind and Big Solar companies.

    As a farmer, I can easily see that the old saying, “it takes money to make money,” is true, and our large corporations are more than ready to take advantage of Obama’s prediction that his policy of driving coal fired electric generation out of existence will cause huge increases in the price we pay for electricity. So, as we get used to only having electricity for a few hours a day, you can bet good money that the companies that are now grouped under the name, “Big Oil,” will be getting their cut.

    the Grit

  3. matt says:

    Positive as usual Grit!

  4. the Grit says:

    Hi Matt,

    You want positive? Here’s positive.

    I love living without electricity, processed foods, TV, radio, the Internet, and clothing! Heck, running naked in the woods and living off nuts and berries is my fantasy. Well, at least until winter rolls around, but who wants to think THAT far ahead!?

    On a less sarcastic note, and that’s not easy for me, you should note that news from the scientific community is more and more leaning toward thinking that there is no global warming. It’s not all that difficult to see the reason for the shift in opinion, given the last couple of years of record cold, increases in ice thickness at both poles and Greenland, and such. With that in mind, one has to take any plan to increase the cost of living to prevent a disaster which is looking more and more questionable with the proverbial grain of salt. The best way to do that is, as in most cases, to follow the money trail.

    In the instance you mention in your post, a huge company, Exxon-Mobile, is faced with the fact that the next President of the United States is fixated on preventing Global Warming, and is pretty much sold on Al Gore’s scheme of trading carbon credits to force companies into a “green” line. On the other hand, as any rational business person would know, that path doesn’t cut the financial butter. Obama Himself has admitted that his plans to curb CO2 emissions will necessarily drastically increase electric rates, and, duh, everything in the manufacturing sector is based on the price of electricity, which means that, the current global recession is just the appetizer to the deep dive any serious attempts to solve the mythical problem of global warming will send us into.

    On a much more positive note, in an environmentalist driven economic collapse, I’ll make a killing selling fire wood, locally grown produce, and home brewed wine. Which raises some ethical dilemmas over profiting from the suffering of others, but I’m sure I’ll work those out in therapy.

    In other words, positive doesn’t keep the powers that be in check. Besides, just commenting, “Oh yes! You’re right!,” isn’t a lot of fun 🙂

    the Grit

  5. matt says:

    Grit, do you know what the two words ‘climate change’ mean?

  6. the Grit says:

    Hi Matt,

    Yep. They mean the same thing as Global Warming, but is more politically correct. Oh, and it also gives the “climate scientists” an out if they’re wrong and we’re really headed for the next ice age, which is due by the way. You can tell that this is true because all the measures our various Governments are planning on afflicting us with in the name of preventing climate change are the same ones proposed to save us from global warming. Like Obama’s plan to drive our country into a massive depression by forcing coal fired electric generation plants out of business, even though we don’t have any alternatives at the moment.

    Or, if you’d like to approach the question from the opposite direction, riddle me this, if “climate change” and “global warming” aren’t being used as synonymies, then why aren’t the “climate scientists” and government types including in their schemes plans to save us from a shift to colder weather? Really, considering some of the recent reports on changes in sun spot activity, increases in ice cover at the poles and Greenland, and the dramatic cold weather across the Northern Hemisphere suggest that it’s not warming we need to be concerned with, but cooling. And if that’s the case, which many reputable scientists think, and if the CO2 – warming theory is correct, then shouldn’t the worlds Governments be putting plans in place to, once we finally know which way the climate is shifting, pump as much CO2 into the air as possible to save us from freezing?

    On the other hand, it would be more accurate to use the term, “an excuse to implement social and economic change while increasing the power of government and decreasing the rights of the common people through the expediency of scaring the general populous with some vague threat.”

    And in return, I have to ask if you know the meaning of the term, “fascism?”

    the Grit

  7. earthpal says:

    Hi Grit,

    Considering that there is no man made global warming, or in the last few years any global warming at all,

    Four little questions courtesy of George Monbiot:

    1. Does the atmosphere contain carbon dioxide?

    2. Does atmospheric carbon dioxide influence global temperatures?

    3. Will that influence be enhanced by the addition of more carbon dioxide?

    4. Have human activities led to a net emission of carbon dioxide?

    What do you think Grit?

    You know, with or without climate change/global warming . . and whether it’s human-induced or not, the human race is still tearing up the planet. We’re still destroying whole eco-systems and habitats, we’re still killing off many of the world’s species, we’re still exploiting poorer countries in order to protect our own throwaway lifestyles . . . and our land-fill sites are about to conquer the world.

    I think “social and economic change” is desperately needed.

  8. matt says:

    Grit, you are so paranoid. What type of gun do you keep under your bed?

    So you see a difference between the terms GW & CC. That’s good. Now, tell me in your own words what you think CC is (no politics) and why it’s affecting our weather.

  9. the Grit says:

    Hi earthpal,

    1. Not much.
    2. Not much.
    3. Not much.
    4. Not much.

    You have to keep in mind that CO2 makes up only a tiny fraction of our atmosphere and that it’s “greenhouse” contribution is relatively small. In comparison to water vapor, for example, the warming effect from carbon dioxide is totally inconsequential. Still, even if, for the sake of argument, we agree that CO2 is an evil planet warming gas, the basic question has to be is our planet warming? And the answer to that question is that no one knows. Thus and obviously, before going to the extremes of the measures global warming fanatics have proposed to combat a problem which we don’t know exists, any rational being would think a bit more research into the matter is in order.

    As to the rest of your statement, I’m with you in general. It’s totally true that we’ve allowed our population to expand to an insane degree so that there’s no way we can all survive without screwing up much of our environment. On the other hand, without a few drinks at least, I’m not willing to decide which two or four billion people need to be slaughtered for the greater good, and I’m also not willing to go back to a primitive life style so other people can breed as fast as possible. As far as I’m concerned, since my wife and I limited ourselves to having one child, our debt to humanity is paid in full.

    Oh, and as to exploiting poorer countries, the blame for that doesn’t fall on our shoulders. At least not on US shoulders. We’ve spent billions of dollars over the years in aid to these countries (and a lot more in charitable contributions,) and led the way in trying to get rid of trade barriers that prevent them from having a chance at modernizing their countries, while European countries have hardly lifted a finger to help. People who live in glass houses, throwing bricks, and all that.

    Oh, oh, and you should be grateful for landfills. In another 20 or so years, as technology develops, they’ll be valuable sources of all sorts of things that can be recycled in the future. Think of them as giant storage bins for stuff we can’t use now, but will probably find useful in the future. Heck, if nothing else the disposed plastic alone will be invaluable to people living after the major oil deposits run dry.

    As to social and economic change being needed, true, but I suspect we disagree on the details.

    Hi matt,

    Yes, I’m paranoid, but with reason, which by definition, as I understand it, means I’m not really paranoid, which makes me even more paranoid. Also, I’d point out that being paranoid doesn’t mean that They’re not out to get you.

    As to guns, I don’t keep one (or more) under my bed. I do, however, keep a .45 pistol on the table next to my bed and a 12 gage shotgun by the door. Both are loaded and I have extra ammunition at hand. Of course, while our son was small I had to lock these items up, but he’s in law school now, so I figure the chances that he will drive back home, play with the guns, and shoot himself are rather small. On the other hand, since the rate of violent home invasion crimes in my area is in the running for the national championship, I sleep better at night knowing that I can put a quick and bloody end to whatever criminal intruders my dogs don’t chew up. Call me crazy, but “better them than me” has always made sense to me.

    As to climate change and global warming, you can’t separate it from politics, or business interests for that matter. Really, the only scientific support for any of it is from a political body of the UN, the IPCC, and the only political support for the idea derives from the potential for expanding government power, and the only reason Big Business is jumping on the band wagon is because they want to get a piece of the government subsides and monopoly markets that our future seems to hold. On the subject of weather, as you should know, that varies from year to year and only has anything to do with climate on a scale of decades or longer. Still, considering the current weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere, it looks like the concept of global warming is going down the drain.

    the Grit

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