Cargill official wary of carbon tax to fight climate change

U.S. group debates options | Risky Business members examine ways farmers and businesses can adapt to climate change

CHICAGO, Ill. (Reuters) — Cargill Inc. executive chair Gregory Page has refused to commit to a carbon tax as one of the steps needed to adapt to damaging climate change.

However, he said it is a “prescription” that agribusiness will have to evaluate.

Page, part of a new group dubbed Risky Business, which was formed to encourage business leaders to address climate change, was asked if he agreed with former U.S. treasury secretary Henry Paulson, another Risky Business member, that the United States should impose a carbon tax to boost alternative energy use and reduce fossil fuel emissions.

“I’m not going there,” Page said.

“As a company, we debate this a lot.”

Paulson made his call for the carbon tax in an op-ed article in the New York Times June 22.

“Obviously, Hank has put down his chip that he’s in favour of pricing carbon and eliminating subsidies. That is one of the possible prescriptions,” Page said.

“We’ve watched different countries try different things. The one we’ve observed the most is just blunt force; mandates … haven’t worked particularly well.”

However, the group’s main goal is to document the costs of not dealing with climate change rather than make prescriptions.

“We think the best discussion is going to take place if we get more people at least willing to consider what are the plausible scenarios that we might have to get ourselves prepared for,” Page said.

Climate change and effects such as drought, floods and extreme temperatures affect agricultural production of crops and livestock.

However, Page acknowledged that doubt about climate change is widespread among U.S. farmers.

The first Risky Business climate report, which was issued in late June, details shifting patterns of crop yields in coming decades, with “likely gains for northern farmers offset by losses in the Midwest and south.”

Page said Cargill has been pushing climate change adaptation throughout the company, such as using methane from its waste water pools at meat plants to replace natural gas and changing its packaging, transportation and supply chain procedures.



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