Exxon kicked out of carbon tax alliance after lobbying scandal

Exxon Mobil Corp. was suspended from the Climate Leadership Council, a pro-carbon tax group backed by conservation groups and some of the world’s biggest companies.

The move comes just weeks after an Exxon lobbyist was secretly recorded by Greenpeace saying the oil giant expressed support for a carbon tax only because it knew such a policy would be nearly impossible to implement. Exxon was one of the founding members of the board when it was created in 2017; other participants include BP, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

“After careful consideration, we have decided to suspend ExxonMobil’s membership in the board and Americans for Carbon Dividends, our advocacy arm,” Climate Leadership Council chief executive Greg Bertelsen said in a statement on Friday.

Exxon CEO Darren Woods apologized for the lobbyist’s comments in late June, saying they “do not in any way represent the company’s position” and reiterated his support for a carbon tax. The oil explorer was already under intense pressure from investors to step up efforts to reduce emissions after an activist investor won a key board battle that replaced a quarter of directors.

“The CLC’s decision is disappointing and counterproductive,” Exxon spokesman Casey Norton said in an email. “This will in no way deter our efforts to advance carbon pricing which we believe is a key policy requirement to tackle climate change. “

Support for a carbon tax to fight climate change is gaining momentum. Supporters say it would encourage businesses and consumers to pollute less. The American Petroleum Institute, the powerful petroleum industry trading group that counts Exxon among its members, approved such a policy earlier this year.

But a tax that could increase the costs of driving, flying and importing is likely to meet stiff resistance from some quarters. The Climate Leadership Council defenders that any product should be returned directly to taxpayers through “carbon dividends”. He also wants simpler carbon regulations and similar fees charged on foreign imports to create a level playing field.

The World Resources Institute, also a founding board member, welcomed Exxon’s withdrawal.

All companies should “re-examine their lobbying, political spending and membership in trade associations to ensure that their actions are fully aligned with their public statements on climate change,” the institute said in a statement.

Exxon will consider “more aggressive targets” for emissions, Woods said last month, citing comments from new Exxon directors. The company is considering a goal of reducing carbon emissions from its own operations, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

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