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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

Last week, S&P Global wrote about a fascinating interrelationship of US carbon policy, tax incentives, commodities markets and consumer products. It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t – and it makes total sense.

“The US expanded its carbon capture tax credit program in 2022 to provide up to $85 for every metric ton of CO2 stored underground. But … the tax credit boost came as industrial companies struggled to secure CO2 on the merchant market for a range of uses, from beermaking to medical procedures.”

Companies producing CO2 as emissions – rather than a product – now face a perverse decision: dispose of their emissions for an $85/ton tax credit or get a smaller tax credit (up to $60/ton) for providing recovered CO2 as a product rather than disposing of it.

“Companies supplying industrial gasses must now compete with carbon sequestration developers …’They [US lawmakers] had blinders on,’ [Maura Garvey, president of Intelligas Consulting LLC] said. ‘I think when they put through all the tax credits, they really weren’t paying attention to how this might have a ripple effect down the road.'”

This isn’t really too surprising. I would venture to say that most people – including those working for high-CO2 emitting companies – consider carbon emissions to be a waste needing disposal rather than a product with intrinsic real financial value. Certainly, policy makers see it that way, so that is how they craft their policies – without understanding supply chains or existing successful circular economies. Last week, we announced the availability of our new checklist Identifying & Updating Climate Risks and Uncertainties consisting of ten categories, with specific potential risks/uncertainties for each. That checklist even includes these policy risks:

  • Policies with political – rather than market – mechanisms for climate/carbon solutions
  • Policies that interfere with, disincentivize or prevent market solutions or innovations (including trickle down or ripple effects in supply chains)

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile