Friday, October 26, 2007

Will Sarko give a slap to Shrub’s CO2 face?

Or, in plainer English, could a European Union carbon excise tax on non-Kyoto countries push even Bush to actually address global warming?

Because that sort of excise tax on countries that have not ratified the Kyoto treaty on carbon dioxide emissions is exactly what French President Nicolas Sarkozy has just proposed:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday called for a national "carbon tax" on global-warming pollutants and a European levy on imports from countries outside the Kyoto Protocol.

It’s part of a larger tax package, and Sarkozy’s drive to realign France’s economy and public service sector.
Wrapping up a four-month forum on the environment that brought together the government, industry and the green lobby, Sarkozy said he would consider shifting part of France's tax burden from labour to pollutants, a key demand of environmentalists. …

“We need to profoundly revise all of our taxes... to tax pollution more, including fossil fuels, and to tax labour less.”

And, it’s drawing rave domestic reviews.
France's star environmentalist Nicolas Hulot, who pushed green issues to the top of the agenda of the last presidential campaign, said he was “happy and confident” following Sarkozy’s speech.

Arnaud Gossement, spokesman for France Nature Environment, an umbrella group of 3,000 associations, also reacted positively.

“For the first time, we have a president who does not pit economy, growth and ecology against each other... even though he was elected on a pro-growth platform,” he said.

I don’t know exactly what World Trade Organization regulations have to say about such a levy. But, so far, not a peep from Bush, so Sarkozy may just be on firm ground.

Arguably, this is a good reason for getting a Kyoto II started, that would include China and other developing countries, even if they’re not held to the same standards as the EU, US or Japan. It would finally, in a way, include environmental standards in international trade issues.