France Revives Push for Carbon Tax on Energy-Intensive Imports

French President Francois Hollande said Europe should consider introducing a carbon tax on imported goods from regions without climate protection policies, reviving an idea mooted more than three years ago.

“We shouldn’t have to choose between the competitiveness of European companies and the fight against global warming,” Hollande said today in a speech at an environment conference in Paris. “Urgency on the climate requires a shock reaction on an international scale.”

Hollande separately unveiled today a new French tax on energy products to take effect next year that will be calculated according to emissions. The president didn’t provide details of how a European tax would work except to say it would be a “carbon inclusion mechanism” at its borders.

The EU is seeking to protect industry while cutting emissions. It said in November it would freeze implementation of greenhouse-gas curbs on flights into and out of the 28-nation bloc, while countries negotiate a global pact to cut pollution. Airbus SAS Chief Executive Officer Fabrice Bregier said last year that China was withholding signature on 35 to 45 orders for wide-body A330 planes as it awaited the halt.

Exporters in nations that fail to introduce climate-protection law may be subject to import taxes imposed by countries with such policies, according to a report e-mailed today by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Hollande’s move to protect industry may be sound, Daniel Rossetto, managing director of Climate Mundial Ltd. in London, said today by telephone.

“But as we’ve seen with aviation, it can get hostile and lead to threats to export markets,” he said.

The proposal for a European carbon tax and emissions target will be made at a conference on energy policy in March, according to the French president. France has also pushed to host the 2015 meeting for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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