Fossil Fuel Companies Evade Taxes, Claiming They Harm the Climate
Fossil fuel companies have kicked off another misinformation campaign. This time they're claiming that taxing them will hurt the environment. In the UK, the Labour Party has proposed a one-year 10% tax on North Sea oil and gas producers to be collected and redistributed to counter rising prices.
In response, BP CEO Bernard Looney suggested the tax would take money away from the industry’s more environmentally friendly programs. "I don’t think a windfall tax is going to incentivize people to invest in the thing that we need right now," he told the Financial Times.
In November, it was widely reported that Looney said high fuel prices had turned the company into a "cash machine."
Reuters: 'Cash machine' BP sees Q3 profit jump, November 2, 2021.
Why This Matters
As fossil fuel companies skirt regulations, they jeopardize the world’s environmental goals. After a brief dip in 2020, oil demand is still high and more expensive than it has been in seven years at almost $90 a barrel. Oil drilling isn't just harmful to the planet; a recent study from Harvard confirms the link between fracking and premature deaths in senior citizens -- people ages 65 and older who live close to oil wells were 2.5% more likely to die early than those who don't.
Reuters: 2021 saw jump in greenhouse-gas emissions, says report, January 10, 2022.
Not Just Greenwashing
Oil giants Shell and BP have taken on net-zero pledges, appeasing investors and earning themselves a seat at the climate table. But the response to the proposed UK tax not only shows that commitments may be insincere, it indicates a more dangerous trend of "green blackmail." Kate Aronoff writes for the New Republic, "Place any more constraints on them, and who knows what might happen to all those wind farms and solar panels."
Moreover, oil companies have been artificially driving up prices to compensate for drilling slowdowns and satisfy shareholders. Aronoff continues: "Planet-killing emissions aren’t the only thing wrong with fossil fuel companies. Their commitment to delivering returns to shareholders is making life harder, and more expensive, for millions of people.”
Greenpeace: Uncovering polluters' offsetting scams, October 26, 2021.
VICE: The Fossil Fuel Industry Wants You to Think It's Solving Climate Change, July 14, 2021.
ENDEVR: How Oil Companies Hid the Truth About Climate Change (Documentary), November 24, 2021.