It is past time for the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility to be applied to the fossil fuel industry. The production and use of fossil fuels results in waste carbon being dumped into our atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2), a climate-warming greenhouse gas. Just as other industries are responsible for cleaning up their waste, the fossil fuel industry must be held accountable for this CO2 pollution.
Extended Producer Responsibility is a principle holding producers of waste-generating products responsible for cleaning up the waste generated by the products they sell.
The fossil fuel industry has enormous financial and technological resources that could be used to develop and deploy efficient and permanent carbon storage solutions, should they be compelled to pay for the cleanup of this waste carbon. Implementing EPR can reduce and ultimately prevent further global warming from fossil fuels at an affordable cost relative to conventional solutions.
EPR works best alongside strong conventional policies which are mostly aimed at reducing demand for fossil fuels, not as a substitute for them. The transition to non-fossil energy sources, while crucial, will not wean us off fossil fuels globally for at least several decades. The goal of EPR is therefore to target the supply side of the equation, to reduce the disastrous impact of any continued fossil fuel use until this transition is entirely completed.
It would also ensure that the fossil fuel industry, currently making extraordinary profits from high fossil fuel prices, plays its part in addressing the climate challenge.
If we are to avoid the most disastrous effects of climate change, fossil fuel production cannot continue unabated.