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Among all the major oil companies, Chevron stands out for not trying to game the system and speaking the truth about the state of knowledge (lack of) in the field of climate science, and the harm from carbon taxes and regulations.
In an April 10 podcast, Chevron’s CEO John Watson said he opposes carbon taxes or other regulations intended to limit oil and gas production and use. That position sets him apart from most other major oil company executives.
In a wide-ranging interview, Watson said the oil and gas industry shouldn’t be subject to a carbon tax because it is already helping the United States, and the world, lower greenhouse gas emissions. “The U.S. has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s been the result of our industry, my industry,” Watson said in the interview. “The miracle of hydraulic fracturing has allowed natural gas to displace coal in power generation. Why would you tax that product?”
Watson also said the science is not settled on whether humans are driving current climate change, telling the podcast host, “There’s no question there’s been some warming; you can look at the temperatures data and see that. The question and debate is around how much, and how much is caused by humans.”
Chevron’s climate realist position is not new. In 2016, Watson and Chevron’s board beat back a number of climate-related shareholder proposals, including proposals to require the company to set emission-reduction targets for itself and to require the company to report on how a global transition to a lower-carbon economy would affect its business. In disclosures filed March 21, 2017 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Chevron said it was once again opposing activist-driven stockholder proposals related to climate change and the environment.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports Watson addressed the 2016 board meeting and challenged activists pushing the resolutions to state what they would be willing to sacrifice to live without oil.
“When people talk about a price on carbon, you’re talking about raising the price of energy – you’re talking about raising the price of everything you consume. The people arguing for a price on carbon should be prepared to say what they’re willing to live without,” said Watson, according the Chronicle.