The New York Times reported today that French President Jacques Chirac has demanded that the United States sign both the Kyoto climate protocol and a future agreement that will take effect when the Kyoto accord runs out in 2012.
According to The Times, Chirac warned that if the United States did not sign the agreements, a carbon tax across Europe on imports from nations that have not signed the Kyoto treaty could be imposed to try to force compliance. The European Union is the largest export market for American goods.
“A carbon tax is inevitable,” Mr. Chirac said. “If it is European, and I believe it will be European, then it will all the same have a certain influence because it means that all the countries that do not accept the minimum obligations will be obliged to pay.”
French officials have recently floated the idea of imposing carbon-equivalent tariffs on imports from countries that do not tax or otherwise regulate carbon emissions. These tariffs would help level the playing field for early adopters of carbon controls.
Carbon tax is generally a good idea, for corporations, but not necessarily for individuals. Many people who live in rural areas are generally lower on the income scale than those in urban/industrial areas, but must travel farther to get to jobs, school, shopping, etc. Thus those least able to pay, would be the ones required to pay the most in carbon taxes. The carbon tax should be based on income or personal net worth, in order to provide relief for those lower income consumers who need to be on the road a lot. In order to make it more fair for those who are wealthier, but consume less, e.g., someone who lives in the city and walks or rides a bike to work, you could compute the tax for their actual consumption, and any amount they owe in excess of that to provide relief for lower income consumers could be considered a tax deductible contribution to the poor. That way they would get a tax break from having to pay more than for what they consumed.