Climate Polluters Write a Letter Asking to Be Lightly Regulated Please

Illustration for article titled Climate Polluters Write a Letter Asking to Be Lightly Regulated Please
Photo: Eric Baradat (Getty Images)

Sounds like some of the nation’s largest polluters have reached the bargaining phase of post-climate denial. In an open letter, 42 corporations have announced that they’re thrilled to have the “opportunity” to meet the Paris Agreement goals “if elected leaders seize this moment” through “bipartisan climate solutions.” Now that they’re staring down more regulation, they’d like a seat and the table along with Republicans, please, rather than say, executive orders, thank you. They even expressed concern for their own victims, “marginalized communities” and “low-income households.”


On the list are Amazon, which is proactively facilitating oil and gas extraction through Amazon Web Services and has only increased its nation-sized carbon emissions over the past years. There’s Ford Motors, which announced in 2018 that it’s phasing out hybrid sedans for gas-guzzling trucks. It and GM, another signatory, also knew about the impact their vehicles had on the climate as early as the 1960s and did nothing about it. In fact, they actively tried to stall clean car requirements. Up until 10 days ago, GM also supported the Trump administration’s rollback on fuel efficiency standards. And Shell, one of the leading architects of environmental devastation, whose latest stab at atonement was a Twitter poll (didn’t go over well). Signatories also include BHP, Google, Walmart, Unilever, and a few banks missing from the United Nation’s banking version of a Paris Accord.

“Bipartisan climate solutions” is corporate speak for “carbon tax:” a necessary measure, but not enough to actually address emissions and a lot less scary for corporations than a Green New Deal. On balance, a carbon tax alone would essentially let them off the hook and keep us far from achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

They’ll probably want subsidies with that, too. “To achieve a net-zero economy,” they write, “the United States must establish durable national policies that harness market forces, mobilize investment and innovation, and provide the certainty needed to plan for the long term.”

Aside from rejoining the risk-free Paris Agreement, the letter signatories don’t propose a single action item. For a closer look at their likely preferences, see the Climate Leadership Council, whose founding members have a sharp overlap with the letter writers. Their proposal is to remove regulations and just charge companies a fee, which will be given back as “carbon dividends” for American households. They point out that it’s a win-win for politicians, because paying us all off would be popular. The proposal initially included a liability waiver for polluters for the damage they caused. Though it was dropped last year, it should give you a sense of what’s first and foremost on the plan endorsers’ agenda.

More ambitious formal agreements have historically gone straight into the waste bin, but hey, check out this sign.

Staff reporter, Gizmodo. wkimball @ gizmodo


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Given data technology these days, e-commerce companies could add a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions tally to items ordered and present that at check out. The tally would include emissions from mining, milling and producing of raw materials, shipping of that, manufacturing of item, packaging, shipping of that, waste, land use changes, etc. Oh, and add emissions coming from selling, general and administrative (SG&A), too. Selling emissions might also include marketing and associated media integration emissions. This shit don’t just sell itself.

Whether to apply a tax on emissions tally at a per item level is a whole nother matter.