BOSTON (Reuters) - Major oil companies like Exxon Mobil <XOM.N> and BP Plc <BP.N> have thrown their support behind a carbon tax plan proposed by a group of elder Republican statesmen, according to an advertisement published in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
The corporate support for the plan, which would impose a $40 tax on each ton of carbon dioxide produced, follows a decision by President Donald Trump to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a global pact that fights climate change by slashing emissions from burning fossil fuels.
"This plan would achieve significantly greater emissions reductions than all current and prior climate regulations, while helping America's businesses and workers get ahead," according to the advertisement from the Climate Leadership Council.
The ad bore the corporate symbols of companies such as Exxon, BP, Shell <RDSa.L>, Total <TOTF.PA>, GM <GM.N>, Johnson & Johnson <JNJ.N>, and PepsiCo <PEP.N>.
The Climate Leadership Council proposal was co-authored by James Baker, secretary of state during the administration of George H. W. Bush, and George Shultz, secretary of state under Ronald Reagan. The proposed $40 per ton tax on carbon would rise in price over time, and revenues would be paid into the Social Security Administration.
While the plan echoes past attempts by parts of the Republican Party to address climate change, it could be a non-starter. Trump has expressed doubt over the existence of climate change and has said efforts to fight it put the United States at a competitive disadvantage.
A White House official did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The administration has previously said a carbon tax is not under consideration.
An overwhelming majority of scientists believe that burning fossil fuels drives global climate change, has raised sea levels and triggered more frequent and powerful storms.
Oil giants like Exxon and BP have been criticized for their roles in contributing to climate change through the production and marketing of fossil fuels. Still, in recent years, they have supported government efforts to regulate emissions, including through the Paris climate deal agreed by nearly 200 nations in 2015.
Exxon Chief Executive Darren Woods had repeatedly urged Trump to keep the United States in the Paris deal, saying the country's abundant reserves of low-carbon natural gas made it well-placed to perform within the agreement.
The full plan carbon tax plan can be seen at https://www.clcouncil.org/
(Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Bernadette Baum)