Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 13:00 UK

France set to impose carbon tax

Paris traffic (file pic)
Mr Sarkozy says the French must cut their energy consumption

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced plans for a new carbon tax aimed at combating global warming.

The tax will be introduced next year and will cover the use of oil, gas and coal, he said.

The new tax will be 17 euros (£15) per tonne of emitted carbon dioxide (CO2). It will be phased in gradually.

It will apply to households as well as enterprises, but not to the heavy industries and power firms included in the EU's emissions trading scheme.

Most electricity in France - excluded from the new carbon tax - is nuclear generated.

Mr Sarkozy said revenues from the new tax would be ploughed back into taxpayers' pockets through cuts in other taxes and "green cheques".

The carbon tax plans have already encountered stiff opposition across the political spectrum.

France's Le Monde newspaper says the tax will cover 70% of the country's carbon emissions and bring in about 4.3bn euros (£3.8bn) of revenue annually.

Mr Sarkozy insists the new tax is all about persuading the French to change their habits and cut energy consumption, the BBC's Emma Jane Kirby reports from Paris.

Critics say it is just a ploy to boost ailing state finances.

Two-thirds of French voters say they are opposed to the new levy, fearing they will struggle to pay higher bills.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon had previously set the new tax rate at 14 euros per tonne of CO2.

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