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producer responsibility: what if the fossil fuel industry had to pay for carbon clean-up?

There is overwhelming evidence that climate change will cause significant harm if we don’t stop dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – but global emissions continue to rise.  Our reliance on fossil fuels is so entrenched, it will take time to break.  

A new paper published in Environmental Research Letters presents a case for ‘Producer Pays’.  It lays out in detail what we could achieve if we compelled the fossil fuel industry to capture or recapture all the carbon dioxide generated by its activities and the products it sells.  The authors argue that we already have the technology to stop fossil fuels from causing further global warming within a couple of decades – but lack the policies required to make this happen.

They go on to argue that the difference between what we pay for gas right now in the UK and Europe and what it costs to produce and deliver would pay for free air carbon capture twice over.  They say that this solution is staring us in the face, if only governments would make safe carbon dioxide disposal a licensing condition of continuing to sell fossil fuels.  There is much talk about net zero, but for as long as we continue to use fossil fuels, the authors claim this is a robust and properly costed route to achieve it.

Journalists came to this online SMC briefing to hear the authors present their research.


Speakers included:

Stuart Jenkins, Department of Physics, University of Oxford

Prof Myles Allen, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Margriet Kuijper, Carbon Management Consultant, MKC Tynaarlo, Netherlands

Dr Hugh Helferty, Corporate Strategic Research Manager (retired), ExxonMobil, USA & Co-founder, Producer Accountability for Carbon Emissions, USA


This Briefing was accompanied by an SMC Roundup of Comments.

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