Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Climate campaigners say oil companies involved are only trying to distract from the role they've played in creating the global climate crisis. (Photo: Thomas Hawk/flickr/cc)

Climate Groups: Don't Be Fooled, Industry-Backed Carbon Tax Just Latest Scam

"Buried in pages of supposedly 'free market' solutions is new regulation exempting polluters from facing legal consequences for their role in fueling climate change."

Jon Queally

Actually, no, major fossil fuel companies and "left-wing enviros" have not found common cause in an industry-backed carbon tax proposal.

Though that was the misleading headline from the right-wing Daily Caller on Tuesday after it was reported that a plan by the Climate Leadership Council (CLC) to create a tax on carbon emissions would receive endorsement from ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, and other large corporations—climate justice campaigners were quick on Tuesday to distance themselves from the proposal which they characterize as a scam and a distraction.

"Exxon is signing onto this carbon tax proposal because they know it's dead-on-arrival, but hope it will distract from the ongoing investigations into whether the company lied to the public and its investors about climate change."
—Jamie Henn, 350.org
Put forward earlier this year by former secretary of state James Baker and other Republicans, the CLC plan is based on a market-driven scheme that would scrap many emission-reducing regulations while instituting a fuel tax that would be passed on to consumers. As the New York Times notes, the "proposal also says companies that emit greenhouse gases should be protected from lawsuits over their contribution to climate change."

According to Naomi Ages, senior climate campaigner for Greenpeace USA, the plan is nothing but corporate opportunism masquerading as a solution to the crisis of human-caused global warming.

"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," warned Ages. "Buried in pages of supposedly 'free market' solutions is a new regulation exempting polluters from facing legal consequences for their role in fueling climate change."

Along with Ages, Jamie Henn, communication director and co-founder of 350.org, said the oil companies involved are only trying to distract from the role they've played in creating the global climate crisis. Both ExxonMobil and Shell are under investigation for allegedly deceiving both the public and their investors for decades regarding what they knew about the role carbon emissions played in heating the planet.

"It's important to separate the game from the truth," said Henn. "Exxon is signing onto this carbon tax proposal because they know it's dead-on-arrival, but hope it will distract from the ongoing investigations into whether the company lied to the public and its investors about climate change. Exxon has a decades-long track record of misleading the public on climate change; this is just more of the same delay and deceit."

Ages agreed. "Across the globe, communities, shareholders, and top law enforcement agencies are launching investigations and litigation against fossil fuel companies. A nicely worded public relations exercise is no cure for decades of deception."

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, was scathing in her critique of the proposal and the oil companies backing it.

"This plan being promoted by notable conservatives and their industry allies is particularly absurd: It would scrap many existing pollution controls—common sense rules that tackle carbon emissions at their source—in favor of a market-based scheme that would push added costs onto consumers, not polluters."
—Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch

"If ExxonMobil and many of the world’s largest fossil fuel corporations are lining up behind a carbon tax," she said, "you can be certain such a plan will have zero effect on their ability to maintain business as usual. That means continued oil and gas extraction, continued air and water pollution, and a continuing steady march toward irrevocable climate chaos. This plan being promoted by notable conservatives and their industry allies is particularly absurd: It would scrap many existing pollution controls—common sense rules that tackle carbon emissions at their source—in favor of a market-based scheme that would push added costs onto consumers, not polluters."

Like her colleagues in the climate justice movement, Hauter said that faux solutions which let the industry off the hook should not be allowed to supplant real efforts to curb emissions that would create a faster transition to renewables.

"Only cutting carbon emissions at their source—by keeping fossil fuels in the ground and transitioning rapidly to clean, renewable energy—will quickly reduce emissions and effectively tackle the worst effects of impending climate chaos," Hauter said.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Agency Condemns 'Homophobic and Racist' Monkeypox Reporting

"Stigma hurts everyone," says one ranking UNAIDS official. "Shared science and social solidarity help everyone."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Tax the Rich,' Say Millionaire Activists Protesting at Davos Amid Record Wealth, Inequality

"As someone who has enjoyed the benefits of wealth my whole life I know how skewed our economy is and I cannot continue to sit back and wait for someone, somewhere, to do something," said one demonstrator.

Brett Wilkins ·


Rights Group Urges Civilian Safeguards as Biden Sends Troops Back to Somalia

"A culture of impunity for civilian loss breeds resentment and mistrust among the population and undermines efforts to build a more rights-respecting state," Human Rights Watch's regional director asserted.

Brett Wilkins ·


Australian Progressives Hail 'Greenslide' Amid Big Left Wins and Morrison's Ouster

"People have backed the Greens in record numbers and delivered a massive mandate for action on climate and inequality," said party leader Adam Bandt.

Brett Wilkins ·


Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo