“Climate change is no longer a matter of science,” a coal company executive recently told me. “It is a political and social reality.”
Even though US president Donald Trump has filled his government with climate deniers, his own voter base is more attuned to reality. Nearly half of those who voted for him support the idea that fossil-fuel companies should pay a carbon tax, according to a 2017 Yale University report.
Economists have long agreed that putting a price on carbon emissions is one of the most effective ways of tackling global warming. Finland introduced the first carbon tax in 1990 and more than 15 countries around the world levy it in some form today.
Not surprisingly, fossil-fuel companies have spent billions—and some continue to spend—lobbying to stop such policy proposals. Much of this lobbying has been successful. But after global leaders signed the Paris climate agreement, the tide began to turn. Many fossil-fuel companies have realized that sooner or later a carbon tax is coming in most markets, and a few have even taken the bold step of publicly supporting some form of carbon pricing.
Quartz is keeping a running list of all such companies. The figures next to the company names are revenue for the latest year available for public companies.
Royal Dutch Shell ($233 billion)
“If Trump does not go down the path of a carbon tax, we should not lose our resolve. We should stick to our values as Canadians to do something to protect the environment.” — Michael Crothers, President of Shell Canada, November 2016.
“Carbon-pricing systems encourage the quickest and most efficient ways of reducing emissions widely.” — Ben van Beurden, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, October 2015.
Exxon Mobil ($218 billion)
“One option being discussed by policy makers is a national revenue-neutral carbon tax. This would promote greater energy efficiency and the use of today’s lower-carbon options, avoid further burdening the economy, and also provide incentives for markets to develop additional low-carbon energy solutions for the future.” — Darren Woods, CEO of Exxon Mobil, February 2017.
BP ($183 billion)
“A global carbon price would help to unleash market forces and provide the right incentives for everyone to play their part. History has shown the power of market forces in making economies less energy intensive as people have found more efficient ways to use energy.” — Bob Dudley, CEO of BP, February 2015.
Statoil ($53 billion)
“An effective price for carbon emissions would incentivize the supply and use of lower carbon options, enabling the world to move faster to sustainable energy while meeting growing demand along the way. In Norway, Statoil already operates successfully with the highest carbon tax in the world—around $65 per tonne of CO2. We have shown that it’s possible for oil and gas production to prosper in a world of carbon pricing.” – Company statement.
Suncor ($20 billion)
“Climate change is happening. We think a broad-based carbon price is the right answer.” — Steve Williams, head of Suncor, Canada’s largest oil company, May 2015.
BG Group ($12 billion)
“Carbon pricing will be a critical component in the world’s battle to tackle climate change. Putting a price on carbon will reflect its cost to society. It creates transparency among carbon producers and will encourage the development of more efficient carbon reduction technologies.” – Helge Lund, CEO of BG Group, November 2015.
Cenovus ($12 billion)
“In my opinion, and in my company’s opinion, there is no doubt the world is moving to a lower carbon economy. I support a broad-based carbon levy applied as equitably as is possible.”— Brian Ferguson, president and CEO of Cenovus, April 2017.