Energy Execs Welcome Pope’s Call for Carbon Penalties

Pope Francis greets the participants in the pilgrimage of Gypsies during an audience, on October 26, 2015 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty

A number of the world’s biggest oil producers have pledged to support “economically meaningful” carbon pricing policies in response to a call by Pope Francis for some form of carbon tax to fight climate change.

ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Chevron, and Eni, along with major asset managers such as BlackRock and BNP Paribas, declared in a joint statement Friday that governments should set pricing schedules at a level that encourages business and investment, while “minimizing the costs to vulnerable communities and supporting economic growth.”

On Friday, Pope Francis warned of disastrous consequences if humanity does not react swiftly to the threat of climate change, since the world has reached a “critical moment” and there is no time to waste.

“Dear friends, time is running out!” the pope told a group of petroleum leaders in a Vatican-sponsored conference on energy transition Friday. “We cannot afford the luxury of waiting for others to come forward or of prioritizing short-term economic benefits. The climate crisis requires decisive action from us, here and now.”

In that address, Francis said that a transition to renewable energy “involves managing the social and employment impact of the move to a low-carbon society.”

In the meantime, “carbon pricing is essential if humanity is to use the resources of creation wisely,” the pope said. “The failure to deal with carbon emissions has incurred a vast debt that will now have to be repaid with interest by those coming after us.”

“Our use of the world’s natural resources can only be considered ethical when the economic and social costs of using them are transparently recognized and are fully borne by those who incur them, rather than by other people or future generations,” he added.

In response to the pope’s appeal, the energy CEOs issued their joint statement embracing the pope’s call for carbon penalties.

“Reliable and economically meaningful carbon pricing regimes, whether based on tax, trading mechanisms or other market-based measures, should be set by governments at a level that incentivizes business practices,” they said, “while minimizing the costs to vulnerable communities and supporting economic growth.”

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