Monday, 15 June 2009

France moves towards a carbon tax

According to EurActiv, the French Environment and Finance Ministers last week opened a debate on the introduction of a carbon tax in France by 2011 by presenting a white paper for public consultation.

The idea is to push both businesses and consumers towards greener energy consumption to help France meet its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The government maintains that the tax would not add to the financial burden on industry and households, because it would be accompanied by other tax reductions. However, few details were published and the government has asked a panel of experts to look at the detail at a meeting on 2-3 July.

The move anticipates Sweden's plans to make implementing such a scheme at EU level the priority of its forthcoming six-month presidency, which starts in July. Whilst the EU ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme) sets a price on carbon for industrial emissions, Sweden argues that it leaves 60% of emissions untouched and is advocating a tax as the best way to bring them down.

In fact there have been several attempts since the early 1990s to introduce a unitary carbon tax for all EU member states, but countries have been unwilling to pass national decision-making on taxes to the EU, hence the EU ETS. It will be interesting to see how successful Sweden is, but making the push in the six months leading up to Copenhagen is good timing.

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