Imperial Oil Article: Regulation to Reduce Emissions Could Hurt Economy

This early 1990s document from Imperial Oil Ltd, the Canadian subsidiary of Exxon, is an article describing the stance of Imperial’s senior vice-president Doug Baldwin on potential emissions regulations in Canada. This document is part of the ClimateFiles Imperial Oil document set, gleaned by DeSmog researchers from the Glenbow Imperial Oil Archive Collection.

Doug Baldwin had a long career with the Exxon Corporation and its Canadian affiliates before assuming leadership at Imperial. Prior to being named as senior vice-president at Imperial in 1992, Baldwin had served as the Director of Exxon Production Research Company, President and CEO of Esso Resources Canada Limited, and a Production Manager in the Producing Department of the Exxon Corporation. 

In this article, Baldwin is quoted speaking on behalf of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). Responding to “Canada’s international commitment to emissions reduction,” he proposed that “a voluntary, market-based approach to reducing carbon dioxide emissions is the best choice for Canada.” He further stated that “we do not support adopting more prescriptive fiscal or regulatory measures…Canada’s economic well-being will best be preserved if we advance carefully in responding to our international climate-change commitment and factor economic realities into our environmental goals.” 

Baldwin’s comments are particularly interesting in the context of a contemporary study commissioned by Imperial Oil to examine the potential efficacy of a carbon tax in order to reduce Canada’s carbon dioxide emissions. The study found that goals “such as stabilization of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions,” would “undoubtedly require major policy interventions to reduce energy use and, in particular, fossil fuel combustion.” More specifically, the study found that  “of all the policy measures considered, only the carbon tax of $200 per tonne of carbon or $55 per tonne of CO2 achieves approximate stabilization of Canada’s CO2 emissions.” 

The clear disparity between the results of this study, commissioned by Imperial itself, and the statements made by Baldwin about the necessity of regulatory intervention in emissions, makes this document a key part of the narratives spun by Exxon and its affiliates over many decades; continue to espouse the benefits of free-market deregulatory systems, while ignoring the company’s own research showing the need for regulation. 

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