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CALGARY — It may seem odd to hear a CEO of a high-profile oil company speak out in favour of a policy that would make it costlier to do business.

But experts say Big Oil’s recent calls for a carbon tax have pragmatic — not just public relations — motivations.

Michal Moore, an energy economist at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, says savvy companies see a higher price of carbon as inevitable.

And they want to make sure they have input into new policies to ensure they are not unfairly singled out.

Last month, Steve Williams, the boss of Canadian oilsands giant Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) gave a speech in Calgary that called for tougher action on carbon emissions.

But he stressed that such a policy must be broad based — applied to consumers and industry alike.

When it comes to the impacts of climate change, there’s no “plausible denial anymore,” said Moore.

Take, for instance, the severe drought that’s ravaging California.

“I can’t read Steve’s mind of course, but I can certainly create good reasons why it makes sense to get out ahead of this and to send a signal to your investors: ‘Look, we’re not going to be blindsided by whatever comes down the road,” Moore said.

 

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