Thursday, February 1, 2007

Becoming Even More Conscious . . .

Revisiting the Bush Administration's refusal to place mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions (which was this same Administration's primary objection to the Kyoto Protocols), Tom Yuslman of the University of Colorado's Center for Environmental Journalism, this morning's guest on KCPW's Midday Utah , in a post on the Prometheus blog, which is sponsored by the Center, drew my attention recently to the fact that "a day before the State of the Union address, the heads of 10 major U.S. corporations called on the president to support mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions. The group included the chief executives of GE, Duke Energy, DuPont, PG&E, Alcoa and others. The corporations have joined together with leading environmental organizations, including Environmental Defense, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, and the World Resources Institute, to form the United States Climate Action Partnership. USCAP has put forward a plan designed to cut U.S. annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 70 to 90 percent of today’s production in just 15 years" (emphasis mine).

In this same post Yuslman reports on an hour-and-a-half teleconference that was held by Ken Cohen, ExxonMobil’s vice president for public affairs, with bloggers. In the session Cohen brings up the issue of a carbon tax, as opposed to the current trade cap system, which at its very best is only capable of holding emissions at current levels, but not reducing them. I was troubled, however, by Cohen's insistence that a carbon tax would be regressive because it would have to be passed on to the consumer. I must admit to some ambivalence, one effect of passing the cost on to consumers, regressive as it may be, is that is would probably result in reduced consumption. I bothers me that Cohen could be so apparently nonchalant about automatically passing the entire cost of the tax onto consumers, especially in light of the fact that, despite record prices for crude oil, which reached a high of $78 per barrel during the conflict between Israel and Lebanon, ExxonMobile, the world's largest oil company, reported a record net profit for 2006 of $39.5 billion on total gross revenues of $377.6 billion. The net profit is a 9% increase over the 2005 record of $36.1 billion and a $91.6 billion increase in total revenues, which is 32% increase.

In the words of Al Gore, "We have to save the frog".

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