Arnaud Montebourg, the newly-appointed French minister for "industrial revival" who has built a reputation for his fierce attacks against globalisation, has promised to revive old plans by Nicolas Sarkzoy for a carbon tariff at the EU's borders, an idea previously rejected as protectionist among France's European partners.
The European Commission has drawn up a list of 14 industrial sectors that will be eligible for special state aid to compensate for the increased cost of electricity due to the European Emission Trading System (ETS), according to a draft paper seen by EURACTIV.
EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard yesterday (26 May) presented a paper making the case for moving towards a unilateral 30% cut in EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. But she failed to stand behind it, bowing to pressure from France and Germany.
France and Germany yesterday joined the growing ranks of European countries opposed to making further unilateral moves on climate change, as the European Commission today plans to make the case for raising the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction goal from -20% to -30% by 2020.
A campaign led by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to introduce carbon tariffs at EU borders in order to restore fair competition with freely-polluting industries in China is being revamped in Brussels to allay fears that it might trigger a trade war.
Experts from the 27-member bloc agreed on a list of industries ranging from plastics manufacturing to iron and food processing that will be largely exempted from CO2 trading after 2013 for fears that their inclusion would move production abroad.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the two countries will table a proposal "in the coming days" to correct possible trade and competitiveness distortions created by a future international climate change agreement in Copenhagen later this year.
A majority of European countries are reluctant to pick up on current debates in France and the United States about carbon tariffs designed to fend off competition from countries which have not committed to reducing emissions, for fear of triggering a green trade war.
The first-ever lifecycle analysis of the chemical industry's global emissions highlights the importance of the sector as a means of helping to reduce CO2 emissions through energy-efficiency and renewable energy applications, including insulation and coating for lightweight packaging.
European big business and environmental NGOs have disputed the data used by the European Commission to assess whether polluting industries are likely to suffer from foreign competition as a result of Europe's climate change legislation.
"Within a single generation, we can give Europe a truly sustainable energy system," writes EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs in a February paper for the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies.
Fears that tighter controls on CO2 emissions in Europe will drive factories to relocate abroad has led the EU to grant sweeping exemptions for industries deemed to be at risk. Aluminium, steel, iron and cement producers are likely to benefit from the preferential regime.
Last week's EU climate change accord was "a step in the right direction," according to the chemical industry, whose reaction starkly contrasts the huge disappointment expressed by environmental groups.
EU leaders meeting in Brussels yesterday (11 December) closed in on an agreement that would give Europe's big polluters more CO2 emission permits free of charge, as the bloc's major economies slip further into economic recession.
The chemical sector was embroiled in a bitter row yesterday (4 December) over its exposure to the EU's ambitious climate goals, as new research contradicted its claim that producers were at risk of delocalising factories, jobs and emissions to other parts of the world.
Today's (4 December) meeting of EU environment ministers is expected to have little influence on what is being criticised as an industry-friendly, high-politics compromise deal to seal the bloc's embattled climate and energy package before the end of the year.
EU plans to cut industrial CO2 emissions through an emissions trading system are pushing manufacturers of gypsum-based products like plaster and drywall to take their operations outside EU borders, says Jean-Pierre Clavel, president of industry association Eurogypsum.
Despite industry warnings, there is no evidence to date that the EU's climate policies are causing factories to relocate abroad, says Karsten Neuhoff, a University of Cambridge economist and researcher, in an interview with EURACTIV.
Despite industry warnings, there is no evidence to date that the EU's climate policies are forcing factories to relocate abroad, says Karsten Neuhoff, an economist at the University of Cambridge, in an interview with EURACTIV.
There has so far been no sign that the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) has prompted industry to relocate outside of Europe, says the International Energy Agency (IEA) in a report which seeks to "demystify" the "noises" coming from sectors such as cement and steel.
MEPs in the Parliament's Industry Committee have called for the EU's emissions trading regime to be tightened, bringing an end to free emissions allowances by 2020. But questions remain about the treatment of select industries exposed to 'carbon leakage' concerns.