Ad series in WS Journal highlights climate change and carbon pricing
By D.R. Tucker
Much to the disappointment of conservatives who recognize the economic and ecological risk of human-caused climate change, the Wall Street Journal editorial page has long attacked climate science and climate solutions. At some point, the WSJ’s walls of denial would come crumbling down — but who could have anticipated the unusual way climate reality would come to the paper?
The Washington, D.C.-based Partnership for Responsible Growth — which supports federal legislation that would dramatically reduce corporate tax rates while implementing a tax on carbon emissions — has launched the first of several ads that will appear on the WSJ op-ed page. The initial ad highlights ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson’s acceptance of the scientific verdict on climate, also noting that “The CEOs of BP, Shell, Total, Statoil, BG Group and ENI call climate change ‘a critical challenge for our world’ and have also called for a price on carbon.”
The ad concludes: “Historically, when faced with a national security threat like climate change, Americans have set aside ideology, faced facts and taken action. It is time for the editorial board of the WSJ to become part of the solution on climate change. Watch this space for how.”
The second ad, scheduled to run June 16, notes:
“In the 1820s, French physicist Jean-Baptiste Fourier identified the Greenhouse Effect. By 1896, Swedish physicist Svante Arrhenius showed how CO2 from industrial emissions would cause temperatures to rise.
“This isn’t a left or right issue. It’s science. And it’s a good thing, too. Without CO2 acting like a blanket trapping heat, the planet would be too cold to sustain life. But you can have too much of a good thing. As we add more CO2 from fossil fuels to the atmosphere, excess heat remains trapped on earth, and the planet warms. This isn’t controversial. The head of Exxon Mobil and most major oil companies agree, along with every scientific academy in the world.”
The remaining ads, scheduled to run through July 21, are expected to continue making the plain case for effective, market-based policy to reduce carbon pollution — a case that the WSJ editorial page has, unfortunately, not previously made. (To be fair, the paper has, on occasion, allowed carbon-pricing advocates to make their case, most notably in an April 8, 2013 op-ed by former Secretary of State George Shultz and the late economist Gary Becker.)
The Washington Post reports that the Partnership for Responsible Growth “also plans to buy two TV ads on Fox News — also owned by a Murdoch-controlled company — during the Republican National Convention in July featuring Republicans speaking about the need to address climate change.” Despite Fox’s longstanding denigration of climate science, the nearly 20-year-old network has also allowed the voices of climate reality to state their position. Perhaps the Republicans featured in these ads will be invited to appear on Fox’s most-watched programs to discuss the case for carbon pricing; you may recall that carbon-tax advocate and former Reagan adviser Martin Feldstein appeared on the Fox Business Channel in 2015 to promote a market approach to climate change.
George Frampton, who co-founded the Partnership, told the Post, “We’re not really trying to convert or attack the paper…We’re trying to reach out to a business audience in a medium that never tells them the the science is basically settled and that this is a national-security and economic problem.” Despite Frampton’s disavowal of a desire to change the WSJ’s tune on climate, it would be remarkable if the paper’s editorial page reconsidered its adversarial stance and began to take its cues from op-ed columnist Holman Jenkins, who has spoken favorably of revenue-neutral carbon pricing. Perhaps it won’t be long before the WSJ officially declares that putting a fee on carbon emissions would pay enormous dividends.