June 3, 2015 / 4:45 PM / 5 years ago

Focus on nuclear and shale, not carbon, Chevron boss tells Europe

VIENNA, June 3 (Reuters) - Chevron Chief Executive Officer John Watson on Wednesday rejected calls by European peers to introduce a price for carbon emissions, saying the region should instead focus on shale gas and nuclear power.

In a blunt speech to the OPEC seminar in Vienna, Watson elaborated on why he opted not to join the heads of Europe’s six top oil and gas companies including Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Total in a letter published earlier this week urging governments around the world to introduce a pricing system for carbon emissions.

“I understand the concerns but I don’t think putting a price on carbon is an answer... I don’t think it is a policy that can be effective,” Watson said.

Instead, Europe should develop its gas resources, he said, alluding to the reluctance of European governments to develop shale gas in a process known as fracking which has radically transformed the U.S. market.

“We need to make sure we develop the natural gas resources that we have, here in Europe - although Europe is choosing not to develop its resources - but also elsewhere in the world.”

Nuclear power, which fell out of favour around the world, particularly in Germany, was also key to reducing carbon emissions, Watson said.

“If we are serious about climate change - nuclear power would be on the agenda. We wouldn’t be shutting down nuclear plants around the world,” he said.

Chevron larger U.S. peer ExxonMobil also chose not to join the joint letter, revealing a rift between the European and U.S. views on the debate over climate change.

Setting a price for each tonne of carbon that emitters produce is meant to encourage companies to adopt cleaner technologies and shift away from using fossil fuels, primarily coal. (Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov, writing by Ron Bousso, editing by William Hardy)

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