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President Nicolas Sarkozy announced today that he plans on introducing a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in France. That's right, a straight-up carbon tax: polluters will have to pay 17 Euros ($24.64 US) per ton of carbon emitted. And that includes not only businesses but individual households as well. More details after the jump. Some of the top climate scientists in the world have repeatedly stressed that a carbon tax--not a cap and trade system--is the best, and necessary, way to curb greenhouse gas emissions. A straight tax is simpler to institute, easier to regulate, and even arguably more business-friendly, since the price of polluting wouldn't fluctuate as it would be prone to do in a cap and trade system.
And now, it looks like France is going to try it out. But it won't be a straight, blanket tax--utilities and heavy industries are already paying for carbon under the EU's cap and trade system, so they're exempt from the carbon tax. But that's not to say it won't have a massive impact; it most certainly will. From the BBC:
France's Le Monde newspaper says the tax will cover 70% of the country's carbon emissions and bring in about 4.3bn euros (£3.8bn) of revenue annually. Mr Sarkozy insists the new tax is all about persuading the French to change their habits and cut energy consumption.Sarkozy is going ahead with the plan even though as of now, it's unpopular: two thirds of French voters oppose the plan, even though Sarkozy says the revenue will return to the taxpayers, via tax cuts elsewhere and "green cheques." You've got to hand it to Sarkozy on this one--pushing a truly good idea despite what will likely be only temporary popular resistance. If he does institute other cuts with the added revenue, then citizens who lower their energy consumption could stand to actually save money.
Needless to say, France's carbon tax will be watched very closely.