Oxymorons present us with delightfully unexpected viewpoints of a situation. Is a “jumbo shrimp” a large thing or small? Should one clean up a “fine mess” or leave it as part of the decorum? And how does a “paid volunteer” receive compensation, through monetary means or through personal satisfaction? Finally, why would a “carbon fee condoning corporation” want an additional fee placed on its own product?
Oil conglomerates are beholding to their shareholders. Their duty is to make money, and they are highly successful in doing so. But at least one company is advocating shaving that profit a bit by adding a fee to its product. It was with some amazement that several hundred of us listened to David Hone, a Shell Oil Co. advisor. He indicated that his company supports a fee on carbon–based fuels. What’s going on here?
Hone said Shell’s position is that “adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is a real problem and … just can’t continue” and that “action on the climate is inevitable.” So why does Shell Oil think that placing a price on carbon fuel production makes good sense?
- It’s simpler and more effective than top-down government regulation.
- It lets the marketplace be the driver of new innovation.
- It’s the lowest cost means of compliance.
- It’s flexible and technologically neutral i.e. it doesn’t pick winners.
In addition, a study by the highly respected Regional Economic Modeling, Inc. (REMI) recently demonstrated that if all fees collected from carbon-fuel producing industries were returned to every American household that the economy would actually grow faster than if no fees had been imposed. Money collected from oil companies could be relatively easily distributed through dividend checks or tax credits. A carbon fee and dividend system not only improves the economy; it also lowers CO2 emissions more quickly and to a greater degree than government regulations.
Shell Oil has looked at the future from a fresh perspective. With a somewhat oxymoronic flourish it has come to the surprising conclusion that a tax on its own product is a wise course of action. Perhaps we all need to take that fresh look so that we can sidestep the worst effects of global warming, Carbon fee and dividend legislation looks like a helpful component in building the healthy sustainable future we all want. Because our only home is right here, we are forever…Earthbound.