Six major energy companies have written to the United Nations asking for help in setting up a carbon pricing scheme to help tackle climate change.
BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Statoil, Eni and the BG Group asked Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to help them hold “direct dialogue with the UN and willing governments” about developing a scheme to charge those who produce carbon emissions.
“We have important areas of interest in and contributions to make to creating and implementing a workable approach to carbon pricing,” they said.
The companies’ chief executives revealed the move in a letter to the Financial Times, which said: “We owe it to future generations to seek realistic, workable solutions to the challenge of providing more energy while tackling climate change.”
A carbon pricing scheme would involve a fee being charged to emit the greenhouse gas and the proceeds would probably go to companies that reduce them, such as renewable energy firms.
It would cost the six energy firms money, but the chief executives hope to create a level playing field in the market.
In October Georg Kell, executive director of UN Global Compact, told The Independent on Sunday that the private sector was coming round to the idea of carbon pricing, saying “polluters are making the case to be charged”.
“Not pricing pollution and carbon emissions is the biggest market distortion in human history,” he said.
The EU currently runs the world’s biggest carbon-trading scheme, which means there are limits on about 45 per cent of total emissions from the 28 member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. More than 11,000 power stations and manufacturing plants and most flights are covered. However, the system has been criticised for failing to produce significant results, partly because the price set for emitting a ton of carbon was too low.
The move by the six energy firms comes ahead of a major global summit on climate change in Paris in November and December, when most of the world’s countries are expected to sign up to a new agreement on how to deal with the problem.
This could include setting a date by which the use of fossil fuels will stop.
Two major US energy firms, ExxonMobil and Chevron, have already ruled out joining the European energy firms to come up with a joint global warming strategy, the FT reported.
Rex Tillerson, Exxon’s chairman, told shareholders: “We’re not going to be disingenuous about it. We’re not going to fake it. We’re going to express solutions and policy ideas that we think have merit.”
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