The Pope And Big Oil Agree: You Should Pay More For Energy

REUTERS/Tony Gentile

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Energy and investment executives who met with Pope Francis earlier in June stood mostly in agreement that a tax on carbon emissions is the best path forward to combating climate change.

Pope Francis hosted a two-day summit at the Vatican on June 8 and 9, inviting key players in the oil and gas industry for a back-and-forth discussion on climate change. The leader of the Catholic Church encouraged executives to give up fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy technology. The meeting was just the latest in a series of public moves the pope has made against traditional forms of electricity production.

Most who took part in the summit agreed that a fee on carbon emissions is pivotal in reforming the U.S. energy sector, according to an Axios report. Ernest Moniz, who served as an energy secretary under the Obama administration, took part in the summit and said “one of the areas of focus was carbon pricing to create market incentives for the transition to a low-carbon system.”

Key members who met with Pope Francis include: ExxonMobil Chief Executive Darren Woods, BP CEO Bob Dudley, Equinor CEO Eldar Saetre and numerous others.

The idea of a carbon tax — a fee charged onto companies according to the amount of carbon emissions their plants emit into the atmosphere — has been recommended as a “market friendly” method to controlling CO2 pollution.

While carbon tax proposals appeared popular at the Vatican, it has not garnered the same amount of support in Congress. Majority Whip Steve Scalise and West Virginia Rep. David McKinley introduced a House resolution in April that explicitly condemns a tax on carbon dioxide pollution. (RELATED: Pope Criticizes Oil Executives, Silent On Ireland Legalizing Abortion)

In a public letter of support for Scalise’s resolution, a group of conservative organizations claimed that a carbon tax would ultimately result in a loss of jobs and higher electricity bills: “For example, a 2014 Heritage Foundation report found that a $37 per ton carbon tax would lead to a loss of more than $2.5 trillion in aggregate gross domestic product by 2030. That is more than $21,000 in income loss per family,” a portion of the letter read. “In addition, a carbon tax would cost over 500,000 jobs in manufacturing and more than 1 million jobs by 2030. According to a 2013 CBO report, a carbon tax is highly regressive.”

House members have yet to vote on the anti-carbon tax resolution. However, the lower chamber of Congress passed a similar version in June 2016, collecting six Democratic votes and zero Republicans opposition.

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