'Carbon tax is wrong way to tackle climate'

Incoming European Union trade chief Karel De Gucht yesterday ruled out pursuing French-led calls to impose a carbon tax at the EU's borders, warning that such ideas risk triggering trade wars.

"In terms of border adjustments, I'm against it," De Gucht told lawmakers in response to a question during a European parliamentary confirmation hearing in Brussels.

"I don't see that as the right approach – it's one that will lead to lots of practical problems. We've seen it in the past. The big risk is that it will also lead to an escalating trade war on a global level.

"It is clear that we need to take account in our trade policy of what is happening in terms of preserving our environment and climate. But I think we have to take other approaches, and find strong policies which are in tune with market laws."

France and Germany in September called for the United Nations to support a carbon tax on imports from countries that failed to back international efforts to fight global warming. However, a UN climate change conference held in Copenhagen in December ended with a non-binding agreement that did not address the issue and that Brussels said was a Chinese-US stitch-up, which will do little to curtail global warming.

The French government decided last week that a national carbon tax will go into force in July, after the constitutional court struck down a previous version of the measure.

 

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