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France Introduces Carbon Tax of $25 Per Metric Ton

This article was written by in Taxes. 10 comments.

President Nicolas Sarcozy of France revealed his plans for working to reduce his country’s carbon dioxide emissions. For each taxpayer’s metric ton of carbon dioxide emission due to use of oil, gas, or coal, the government will charge that taxpayer a fee of €17 (roughly $25). This rate would rise over time. Other energy use, like electricity which comes mostly from nuclear plans, and alternative fuels, will not be taxed in order to encourage cleaner energy habits.

The President has also called for the taxes collected through this plan to be returned to taxpayers. To help those who don’t have the means to explore alternative energy, are poor, or live in rural areas without access to public transportation may actually see an overall refund due to the plan. From the sound of this, there appears to be a level of redistribution of wealth; those paying the most in this new tax may be subsidizing those who pay the least.

pollutionAccording to the most recent statistics I could find, France produces about 6 metric tons of carbon dioxide emission per person, amounting to a yearly tax of about $150. If the United States implemented such a plan, which it might if this plan proves to be successful, a tax at the same rate would amount to about $475 per person.

This is an interesting plan, but is the tax strong enough to truly change people’s behavior? It seems like it would be a nuisance that people will eventually live with rather than work hard to seek alternatives and to avoid paying the tax. I’m not convinced that it will have a large enough effect on carbon emissions, and consequently, no great effect on climate change or on the dependence on oil-based economies. For other countries to adopt a similar practice, they might look to France’s level of success.

What do you think of President Sarcozy’s plan to tax carbon emissions? Would this plan work in the United States?

Photo credit: *~Dawn~*
France set to impose carbon tax, BBC News, December 10, 2009

Updated January 16, 2010 and originally published December 11, 2009.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

I guess the first question I would ask would be how is he going to determine the amount of carbon being used. Is he just going to tax the pants off of everyone. If I drive a hybrid I am going to emit considerably less carbon than someone driving a 1970 Buick. Would the tax just be tacked onto fuel sales?

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avatar 2 Luke Landes

It’s my understanding tha the tax would occur at the point of sale.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

Taxes artificially force people to change behavior than letting the free market do it.

The questions we should be asking ourselves:
1. Is the world’s temperature changing?
2. If it is changing, is it caused by man?
3. Is there something we can do about it to reverse it’s affects?
4. If a tax is created to change one’s behavior, will it be enough to reduce carbon emissions (this assumes questions 1, 2 and 3 are true)?
4. Has cap-n-trade laws in other countries proved successful?
5. Will this be a world effort, or will some countries not participate and therefore have a competitive advantage?

For me at least, I believe it’s all hogwash, and man is pompus enough to think:
A. We created it
B. We are smart enough to reverse what we’ve “created”

I believe George Carlin said it best (NSFW):

“Save the planet? We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves”

The one thing France has over the US is the use of nuclear. I believe only 15% of our electric is generated from it, and 60% is from coal. We will see much higher cost increase in EVERYTHING if cap-n-trade were enacted with us.

IMHO we should be focused on energy independence, not green energy technologies. At least first, I don’t think

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avatar 4 Anonymous

I am all for the France model. Let’s do it. 85% nuclear engery. Lets get that started yesterday. The President has many proposals to get us off oil and onto Nuclear right? Oh, no proposals for that? Hmmm, so we put on cap and trade and then don’t build any nuclear plants and can’t build new coal plants because that is dirty and solar isn’t very wide spread cost effective yet and doesn’t produce high enough volumes of energy and wind has no good electrical transmission grids to move the energy from high wind areas to low wind areas and is expensive to build out and bio-fuels well if we burned up every bushel of corn we have we couldn’t replace 30% of our gasoline needs and you would hate to have to go buy anything with corn in it (almost everything) if we did that.

So yes, put on a carbon tax, should change a lot of things because we will then move to the alternatives …….. which we have no viable alternatives right now.

Build the nuclear plants now Mr. President, or else your cap and trade talk is hot air!

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avatar 5 Anonymous

If France is doing it – shouldn’t that be reason enough NOT to? Who needs Muslim terrorists when we’ll dig our own graves!

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avatar 6 Anonymous

Mmm, socialism…

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avatar 7 Anonymous

I’ve got huge problems with a carbon tax, but without “redistribution”, how do you make the tax NOT regressive? Consider the concept of “lifeline” utility rates and tweak it specifically for carbon.

A poor person needs a certain amount of carbon to live, it’s the excess carbon which, if any carbon, should be taxed, not the base requirement.,

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avatar 8 Anonymous

Time to overthrow the government! These socialist tree-hugging freaks will ruin us all!

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avatar 9 Anonymous

A direct carbon tax wouldn’t work in the U.S. The party that enacts it will be voted out of office. The U.S. already has indirect carbon taxes with the use of tax credits for solar power and other alternative energy. For example, I just picked up a $2,500 tax credit for buying a used NGV and I get to drive at a subsidized 93 cents a gallon. There are other benefits ( ) like driving in the HOV lane alone and free parking at SLC meters.

The advantage of tax credits is that it rewards the positive whereas a carbon tax punishes the supposed negative. The U.S. is as socialist as France, it just hides it better.

The emphasis of the U.S. should be an indirect carbon tax on foreign oil. It should take advantage of its 27% of world coal reserves and its abundant natural gas. After having driven a NGV for several months I would be inclined to promote greater tax credits and more subsidized fuel for these vehicles. The U.S. needs to leverage its assets, not punish itself with silly cap and trade laws.

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avatar 10 wylerassociate

I would love to see america go to more nuclear energy but a carbon tax would never happen in america. The state of California is going to a cap & trade system which will be interesting to see what happens.

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