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France Constitutional Council rejects carbon emissions tax

[JURIST] The French Constitutional Council [official website, in French] rejected [text, in French] a tax on carbon emissions Tuesday, stating there were too many exemptions for polluters in the plan. The tax, set to go into effect on January 1, 2010, was part of the 2010 Finance Act [text, PDF; in French] and was intended to reduce carbon emissions in order to slow climate change [JURIST news archive] and to modify the tax collection system in France. The tax was set at 17 euros per ton of emitted carbon dioxide, but the court found that 93 percent of industrial emissions would be exempt. More than 1,000 of France's largest polluters would have been able to avoid the tax [BBC report], while the cost of fuel for vehicles and heating would have risen for French citizens. Senior French officials have pledged [Reuters report] to revise the plan by January 20 say the court's objections will be taken into consideration when the revised legislation is drafted. Critics of the plan have said that it was a mistake for France [Times report] to implement this plan on their own and that the issue should be dealt with through negotiations with other countries.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy [official website, in French; JURIST news archive] strongly supported the tax and promoted it heavily before the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) [official website] earlier this month. The COP15 conference was originally designed to produce a global climate change treaty to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol [text, PDF; JURIST news archive], but did not result in a legally-binding agreement [JURIST report].

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