ExxonMobil Corp. is committing $1 million over two years to Americans for Carbon Dividends (AFCD), the first oil and gas company to back a group that is advocating for a U.S. carbon tax.

AFCD, co-chaired by former Sens. John Breaux and Trent Lott, is a national education and advocacy campaign that promotes a carbon dividends plan pitched by GOP elders and former secretaries of State James A. Baker and George P. Shultz.

The Baker-Shultz Plan, unveiled in early 2017, is supported by a broad climate coalition and claims to offer the best way for bipartisan climate change control. The plan is underpinned by the conservative principles of free markets and limited government by taxing carbon starting at $40/ton and gradually increasing over time. The funds would be returned to the public through monthly/quarterly dividend checks.

Advocates believe the emissions cuts secured by the tax would exceed U.S. goals under the United Nations’ (UN) sweeping climate accord reached in late 2015, aka the Paris agreement.

“From our perspective, this is a very significant step in what is, as we’ve always known, a long-term campaign,” said the Climate Leadership Council’s Greg Bertelsen, senior vice president. “ExxonMobil is the largest energy company in the country, and this represents the first time in U.S. history that a U.S. oil and gas supermajor has put significant financial resources behind a direct price on carbon campaign.”
ExxonMobil is a corporate founder of the Climate Leadership Council along with BP plc, Royal Dutch Shell plc and Total SA. The advocacy group is working to replace some U.S. environmental regulations with a simplified carbon tax on businesses.

ExxonMobil, like its global Big Oil brethren and many large independents, has for years used carbon pricing in its operations on the expectation that greenhouse emissions will be regulated.

Earlier this year the Irving, TX-based supermajor also set a two-year target to reduce natural gas flaring by 25% and methane emissions by 15% to improve overall business operations. In addition, it set a goal to improve energy efficiency at its global refining and chemical manufacturing facilities.

In addition, ExxonMobil last month joined the global Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) with Chevron Corp. and Occidental Petroleum Corp., which together represent 5% of global production. The OGCI, which supports the UN’s climate accord requires each member to commit $100 million to its climate investments fund.

Other sponsors of the AFCD include the American Wind Energy Association, Exelon Corp. and First Solar Inc.