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22nd Jul 2019

Paris suggests EU tax on imports from non-Kyoto states

  • Paris is urging Brussels to consider EU levies for imports from non-Kyoto countries (Photo: EUobserver)

France has thrown its support behind a European Commission idea to tax environment polluters and also urged Brussels to consider EU levies for imports from non-Kyoto countries, such as the US and Australia.

"We need to profoundly revise all of our taxes... to tax pollution more, including fossil fuels, and to tax labour less," French president Nicolas Sarkozy told an environment forum representing government, industry and the green lobby on Thursday (25 October), according to AFP agency.

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His speech came at the final session of the expert platform which had debated climate change issues for the past four months.

Mr Sarkozy argued that Europe should "examine the option of taxing products imported from countries that do not respect the Kyoto Protocol."

He urged European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, present at the speakers' podium, to discuss in the next six months the implications of "unfair competition" by firms outside the EU which do not have to abide by strict European standards on CO2 emissions.

The United States and Australia are the two leading developed nations that have refused to sign the Kyoto protocol, the international agreement assigning mandatory targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 172 signatory nations.

Washington did sign the treaty in 2001 but abandoned it under George Bush's administration, with Australia following suit although the current opposition tipped to win the next elections is in favour of signing up.

Waiting for Bali

For his part, Mr Barroso told the French environment forum that Brussels expects other world players to join Europe's efforts in fighting against global warming.

He stressed that an upcoming UN conference in Bali in December is crucial in this regard, adding "It is Europe that gives the impetus. It must continue the same way, to set the example and take the initiative."

But he also confirmed that the commission will only table concrete climate proposals - on fresh emissions caps and mandatory renewable energy targets - in January. The proposals had been expected early December.

EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs earlier told EUobserver the delay of the package is due to difficulty in getting member states to agree on how they should share the burden of the EU's goal to have 20 percent of the bloc's energy produced by renewable sources by 2020.

But according to European Voice, the Brussels-based weekly, the delay was also ordered by Mr Barroso as he "wanted to wait until after Bali".

At the Bali conference, scheduled for 3 to 14 December, 180 countries will discuss climate change and a possible successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

Mr Barroso told the Paris audience on Thursday that the EU would commit itself to a further reduction of greenhouse gas emissions after 2012 - by 30 instead of 20 percent - "if the other industrialised countries follow."

"We need to get to the right track in Bali to launch world negotiations and prolong Kyoto's dynamics. The political will to take up the climate challenge is there... But we still have some way to go in order to have the different points of view converge."

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