Carbon Tax Struck Down in France for Being Too Easy on Big Polluters

carbon tax france 2010 photo

Photo via the Telegraph

When French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed a nationwide carbon tax to curb greenhouse gas emissions in his nation, it quickly became one of the most-watched climate measures of the year. Set to become law in merely a matter days, surprising news arrived today that the measure had been struck down by a high court for being too lax on the biggest polluters. According to the AFP, "French President Nicolas Sarkozy faced an embarrassing setback Wednesday after the high court struck down a planned carbon tax to fight global warming, just days before it was to kick in." Indeed--the tax was unpopular with his constituency, but Sarkozy held firm, heralding the idea as a revolutionary way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But France's Constitutional Council ruled that the tax would allow the vast majority of big companies--which already pay a price on carbon through the European Union's cap and trade emissions trading scheme--to evade the tax. AFP reports:

The Council said more than 1,000 of France's top polluters would have been able to dodge the tax and that the legislation did not apply to 93 percent of emissions from industrial sources.

The new levy on oil, gas, and coal consumption set at 17 euros ($25) per ton of carbon dioxide emissions was aimed at encouraging French consumers to adopt good green behaviour and stop wasting energy.

France would have been the biggest economy to have applied a direct carbon tax when it was to come into effect on Jan. 1, mirroring measures that exist in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland.

Now, Sarkozy is said to be scrambling back to the drawing board to tweak the legislation for introduction on January 20th--not only was it one of his signature issues, but it was a pillar of his budget, set to bring in some 4 billion Euros a year. Some feel that the law was simply rushed in order and improperly prepared--many French leaders are still behind the idea.

More on a Carbon Tax
French Panel to Recommend Carbon Tax on Fuel for 2010
Au Revoir La 'Taxe Pique-Nique': France Drops Carbon Tax Plan

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