Energy

Paris Just Rolled Back Its Carbon Tax

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

Labor unions successfully pressured the French government to roll back Paris’ carbon tax.

The French capital’s carbon tax, which has been in place since April, was intended to shut the last coal power plants down “by 2023 at the latest.”  France’s environmental ministry is already attempting to get the European Union to re-institute a broader carbon tax.

France’s General Confederation of Labour (CGT) union opposes a carbon tax because it would shut down several coal power plants in Paris operated by its members. CGT organized several protests against the tax and had several politicians who were former members oppose it. The tax has already been removed from the country’s budget next year.

Only four nations  — Ireland, Sweden, Chile, and Finland — actually have total carbon taxation today. The largest economy to ever have a carbon tax, Australia, repealed it in 2014 over concerns it was harming the economy.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). The study found that even the most well regarded carbon taxes haven’t done much to actually reduce CO2 emissions.

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.

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

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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