Energy

France Abandons Plans For A Carbon Tax

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

France’s socialist government is dropping plans for a carbon tax over concerns it’s too complicated to implement and unconstitutional.

France won’t include a carbon tax in its next budget update, going back on a pledge the country’s energy minister made in May. The primary opposition to the tax was due to “concerns about employment, legal difficulties and security of supply,” an anonymous source close to the French government told Reuters.

Only four nations — Ireland, Sweden, Chile, and Finland — actually have carbon taxation today. Australia repealed its carbon tax in 2014 over concerns it was harming the economy. No country taxes CO2 emissions at the levels deemed necessary to substantially mitigate global warming as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Studies have found that even the most well regarded carbon taxes haven’t done much to actually reduce CO2 emissions.

Researchers found that carbon taxes cause considerably more economic damage than generic taxes do and disproportionately target the poor, so even a revenue-neutral carbon tax would probably reduce economic growth while doing little to fix global warming.

Critics have said carbon taxation disproportionately harms the poorest members of society. A 2009 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that a carbon tax would double the tax burden of the poorest households, making it effectively impossible to have both a carbon tax and a living wage.

A tax on all man-made greenhouse gas emissions would make the tax burden of the poorest households three times greater than that of the richest households, according to the study. A non-revenue neutral carbon tax in the U.S. would impose a net tax hike of at least $695 billion in its first 20 years.

The amount spent globally to meet global CO2 emissions reduction goals could be as high as $16.5 trillion between now and 2030, when energy efficiency measures are included, according to projections from the International Energy Agency. To put these numbers in perspective, the U.S. government is just over $19 trillion in debt and only produced $17.4 trillion in gross domestic product in 2014.

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