In the latest sign of a global oil industry shifting on climate change, ConocoPhillips is now helping fund a multimillion 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.
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.
- A 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 that sends money back to consumers, will be the latest test case and could affect Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s re-election next year.
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.
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.
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