Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

In the latest sign of a global oil industry shifting on climate change, ConocoPhillips is now helping fund a multi-million dollar political advocacy campaign that's lobbying Congress for a tax on carbon emissions.

Why it matters: The move aligns the world’s largest independent oil and gas producer with ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest publicly traded oil company, which recently contributed $1 million. Given the industry’s deep-pocketed influence with Republicans, this backing increases the odds Congress could eventually back the controversial policy.

Driving the news: Houston-based ConocoPhillips has committed $2 million over two years to a political advocacy group called Americans for Carbon Dividends. At $1 million per year, that represents almost half of Conoco’s annual lobbying budget in recent years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance said in a statement to Axios that his company has been involved in climate discussions for more than a decade. The company is happy to join these efforts and “continue the dialogue around carbon price policy development in the United States,” Lance said.

  • Conoco was the only U.S.-based oil company to take part in a coalition a decade ago that supported the last big climate policy Congress considered.
  • In March 2017, Lance was one of the first oil CEOs to urge President Trump to stay in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Trump announced his intent to withdraw a few months later.

The big picture: This industry backing for a carbon tax comes at a politically tumultuous time. I spent the past week in the coal-mining city of Katowice, Poland, where world leaders gathered to negotiate details of the 2015 deal.

  • Ahead of that annual United Nations conference, a U.N. science panel released a report saying pricing carbon dioxide emissions is essential to reducing emissions to levels that avoid the worst impacts of a warming world.
  • Yet the topic on many people's minds at the conference was the violent protests in France over, among other things, rising fuel taxes, which are part of that nation’s climate agenda.

“We don’t have to look that far to see countries that are experiencing challenges,” Catherine McKenna, Canada’s environment minister, said at the conference. Canada, which is rolling out a federal carbon tax next month, will be the latest test case and could affect Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s reelection next year.

  • Some provinces already have carbon-pricing systems, but for those that don’t, the federal government will impose a tax and rebate the proceeds back to citizens.
  • “That’s going to ensure that households are protected from the impact of energy price increases,” Patricia Fuller, Canada’s climate-change ambassador, told me in Katowice.

The U.S. policy that Conoco, Exxon and several other energy companies back also sends money back to consumers. Supporters say that’s an important distinction. In a Washington state carbon pricing initiative that voters just rejected, the money would have been mostly used to fund clean energy.

To be sure, the oil industry’s shift on climate policy is uneven.

  • Companies with big natural gas reserves stand to benefit financially, at least in the short term. A carbon tax would boost demand for gas, which burns more cleanly than coal.
  • Most big oil companies now publicly support pricing carbon, but BP and Chevron were among those spending $30 million to oppose the Washington state initiative.
  • Most producers are members of trade groups whose positions have long resisted climate policies.

“Some of the oil companies have certainly begun to change their posture,” Al Gore told me at the conference. The former vice president and long-time climate activist added: “One of the new fronts in this battle is going to be truth in lobbying.”

With its funding of the tax push, Conoco is also joining a connected initiative, called the Climate Leadership Council, whose corporate members include Exxon, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total.

  • That group, whose founders are leaders from previous Republican administrations, doesn’t lobby or receive corporate contributions. It’s a forum to craft policy details. Another new member: The World Wildlife Fund, which organized events at the climate conference.
  • “It’s about opening up spaces where we can actually have conversations with all the players that are going to be part of the decision to get us on a different trajectory,” Lou Leonard, a senior vice president at WWF, told me in Katowice.

What’s next: Climate change is sure to be a bigger focus for Congress next year with Democrats controlling the House. Whether the issue emerges with bipartisanship or more polarization is uncertain.

  • Support among progressives on Capitol Hill for another kind of plan, called the Green New Deal, is gaining steam. It lacks details, but is geared more toward a mandate than a tax.
  • Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of House members recently introduced a carbon tax bill that’s broadly similar to the plan Conoco just endorsed. They plan to re-introduce it next year.

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
31 mins ago - Economy & Business

What's really going on with the labor market

Source: YCharts

The labor market is showing some signs of improvement: Jobless claims fell to 730,000 — a dramatic drop from 841,000 the previous week. And the latest jobs report showed a pandemic-era low unemployment rate of 6.3%

But, but, but: That's not the full story, experts say.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
40 mins ago - Economy & Business

Markets see rare convergence milestone

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios Visuals

A milestone was reached in the markets Thursday: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to match the dividend yield on the S&P 500

Why it matters: The two yields have been inverted since the beginning of last year, which is historically unusual.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

First look: Business puts muscle behind Biden

Business Roundtable, the voice of America's top CEOs, today launched "Move the Needle," a campaign to support President Biden in rolling out COVID vaccines, increasing vaccine uptake and encouraging masks.

What they're saying: "Masks and vaccines are working. Now is the time to keep at it, overcome pandemic fatigue, and double down on the measures that will end this public health and economic crisis, said Business Roundtable president and CEO Josh Bolten.