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French proposal to tax non-Kyoto supporters

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

As the climate change talks in Nairobi stagger forward, the French have thrown a new proposal into an already sludgy mix. Instead of allowing the world’s worst polluters, the United States and China, to ignore the problems, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has proposed taxes on imports from countries that have not signed the Kyoto Protocol.

De Villepin suggests that European countries stand up with France to tax coal usage, industrial pollution and aircraft noise pollution by 10 percent. The International Energy Agency’s press release yesterday attributes 60% of the CO2 growth of over 1.2 billion tones between 2003 and 2004 to an increase in coal use. A tax like the one proposed by De Villepin targets not only countries that need to be a part of Kyoto to make it worthwhile, but also targets a major part of the climate change problem.

This “carbon war” seems like a great response to the environmental dumping of developed countries. Will the WTO allow this economically forward and environmentally friendly proposal? We only need to remember the “tuna-dolphin” dispute of the US vs. Mexico, as well as many other examples, to see that such a forward thinking amendment may not be plausible. Watch and see if this hit-‘em-where-it-hurts approach creates a significant response within the next few days from the other delegations in Nairobi.

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