Related News

Home » Business » Energy

Germany calls carbon tariffs "eco-imperialism"

GERMANY called a French idea to impose "carbon tariffs" on products from countries that are not trying to reduce greenhouse gases a form of "eco-imperialism" and a direct violation of WTO rules.

Matthias Machnig, Germany's State Secretary for the Environment, told a press briefing that a French push for Europe to slap carbon tariffs on imports would send the wrong signals to the international community.

The issue of greenhouse tariffs has met bitter opposition from developing countries such as China and India who count on the developed world to buy their exports as they build their economies.

"There are two problems -- the WTO, and the signal would be that this is a new form of eco-imperialism," he said. "We are closing our markets for their products, and I don't think this is a very helpful signal for the international negotiations."

European environment and energy ministers are meeting in central Sweden to try and come up with a single vision as to how the 27-member bloc will fight global warming ahead of a major environment summit in Copenhagen.

The first phase of the Kyoto Protocol is set to expire in 2012, and final negotiations on a new global climate change pact will take place in Copenhagen at the end of the year.

The US House of Representatives has already passed legislation that contains carbon tariffs which would allow the United States to impose duties on imports of carbon-intensive goods such as steel, cement, paper and glass from countries that have not taken steps to reduce their own emissions.

Some say such tariffs could be a backup plan for Europe should United Nations members fail to reach a deal in Copenhagen.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office has said such a tax would help create a "level playing field" for European companies competing with international firms from countries that have not put a price on carbon emissions.

EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs has said European member states should keep the French proposal in mind but also worries how such tariffs could be viewed by other countries.

China said earlier this month carbon tariffs would violate the rules of the WTO and the spirit of the Kyoto Protocol.

Carbon tariffs would represent a radical shift for the WTO whose goal is reducing barriers to trade. The WTO says it is possible to impose import tariffs if such taxes are also imposed on a country's own industry, ensuring a level playing field.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend