As this article reports, the CEO of the world’s largest oil company, Exxon Mobil, has called for a US carbon tax to 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. 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.