Just two weeks after Australia’s ruling party was ousted for supporting a carbon tax, France announced it will tax carbon dioxide emissions in an effort to reduce the country’s carbon footprint and tackle global warming.
The country will start taxing fossil fuel use next year, targeting transportation fuels and domestic heating, which aren’t covered by the European Union’s cap-and-trade system.
“This is a positive move,” Niklas Höhne, the director of energy policy at Ecofys in Germany, told NewScientist.
France will also introduce a new law to cap the country’s nuclear power capacity in order to boost renewable energy generation. French President Francois Hollande vowed to halve the country’s reliance on nuclear power by 2025 while also keeping utility bills down — a difficult task with higher-cost renewables.
Hollande’s new carbon tax comes just weeks after Australian voters threw out the Labor Party government that had imposed a tax on carbon. Aussie conservatives won a landslide victory with a platform that included repealing the unpopular tax.
“It is no secret that Australia’s controversial carbon tax isn’t delivering the promised improvements,” said Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter. “One obvious misstep in Australia was that there was no full cost-benefit analysis conducted before implementation. And as a result, electricity prices increased, unemployment rose significantly, and there hasn’t even been any reduction in the level of domestically-produced CO2 emissions.”
Carbon tax legislation has been introduced in the U.S., but efforts to pass a bill on the issue have largely withered away. Instead, supporters are focusing on including a carbon tax as part of comprehensive tax reform negotiations.
“Australia backing off is not good news,” says Höhne, adding that many countries are starting to tax carbon. “More jurisdictions are putting carbon price signals in place. Australia is the outlier.”
France already taxes fuel use, but the carbon tax will tax fuels based on their carbon footprint and is expected to raise 4 billion euros by 2016. However, the nation’s carbon tax will come on top of the EU’s cap-and-trade system — which already puts a price on carbon dioxide emissions from large power plants, factories, and other facilities.
France will be the seventh European country to tax carbon after Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Ireland.
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