French Carbon Tax struck down as unconstitutional

One of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s most-trumpeted greenhouse gas initiatives has gone up in smoke, being ruled unconstitutional. A tax on carbon-emitting products was due to come in on New Year’s Day, intended to encourage consumers to cut back on fossil fuels.

But the Constitutional Council rejected the idea, saying it contained too many exemptions which would not fit in with France’s view of liberty and equality. The Council also said the plan exempted France’s worst polluters such as oil refineries, while including relief for farmers and fishermen.

Sarkozy had thrown his weight behind the proposal, but it was successively watered down to appease critics. His political opponents welcomed the Council’s rejection – the Greens saying the tax should be higher, and the Left saying it would hurt consumers struggling with the economic downturn.

However, the government has vowed to persevere. Prime Minister Francois Fillon said his cabinet would examine a new law, while taking account of the Council’s ruling. Sarkozy is said to be ‘determined’ to impose the tax.

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