Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Business and Carbon

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Business and Carbon

Article excerpt

Prepared to put a price on emissions

Dozens of the nation's largest corporations, including the five major oil companies, are preparing for the day when carbon pollution is taxed as a way to control climate change.

The question is: Where is Congress on the issue?

Unfortunately, the answer is that -- on our energy future as on so many crucial issues -- Congress has stalled out.

Maybe the realization that major U.S. corporations are assessing the realistic future costs of climate change will jump-start congressional action. It's long overdue.

The news that oil giants ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, BP and Shell -- as well as Walmart, Microsoft, General Electric and more than 20 other companies -- are incorporating a price on carbon pollution into their long-term financial plans was revealed in a study by the environmental data company CDP. The New York Times' Coral Davenport reported on the CDP analysis last week.

Many economists have long concluded that putting a price on carbon pollution -- that is, the emissions from burning oil, gas and coal -- is the simplest and most effective way to fight man-made climate change.

How a carbon tax works

Here's how it works: If an industry pays a tax on its carbon emissions, Davenport noted, "the costs will be passed on to consumers in higher prices for gasoline and electricity. Those high prices are expected to drive the market away from fossil fuels like oil and coal, and toward low-carbon renewable sources of energy."

Revenue generated by the tax, in turn, could be directed to research and development of alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power.

Congress has tried before to enact a carbon price, but the efforts failed -- largely because the oil and gas industry financed lobbying campaigns against them.

In 1994, Al Gore, who was vice president at the time, led a failed effort to pass a climate change bill that would have effectively taxed carbon pollution. …

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