French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo outlined the upcoming revised proposal on Wednesday (20 January), after the Constitutional Court rejected the government's original plan last December.
The government had originally hoped to levy a carbon tax on oil, gas and coal consumption by households and businesses. It was going to be set at €17 per tonne of carbon emissions, rising gradually (EurActiv 14/09/09).
But the Constitutional Council said the large number of exemptions from the legislation would put an unfair burden on consumers and would not fulfil the objective of fighting climate change. It said that the tax would not be applied to 93% of industrial carbon emissions, and over 1,000 of France's biggest polluters would be able to avoid it.
The court pointed out that the law exempted big emitters from power stations to oil refineries and cement works, which are covered by the EU ETS, and imposed lighter tariffs on groups like farmers, fishermen and truck drivers.
The new proposal would amend the problem by subjecting industrial installations under the ETS (see EurActiv LinksDossier) to a carbon tax until 1 January 2013, the environment minister said. Until now, the power sector has enjoyed free emission permits, but free allocation will be gradually phased out from 2013.
The French government said in a statement that it would also take measures, starting in February, to protect the competitiveness of certain sensitive sectors. It pledged to consult with businesses, social partners and environmental organisations on implementation.
The new text would retain other aspects of the initial proposal, including the tariff of 17 euros per tonne of CO2 and green cheques designed to compensate consumers, the government said.
A new bill is expected to be presented to the French parliament in the next couple of weeks.