Australia gets hot over global warming tax
SYDNEY, Nov 15, 2006 (AFP) - Australia hit back at France Wednesday over its threat to impose a tax on industrial goods from countries that ignore the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.
Prime Minister John Howard described the plan as “silly”, while the mass-circulation Daily Telegraph headlined its report: “Back off, Frogs”.
Running across a picture of a French nuclear bomb explosion in the Pacific in 1971, a subheading read: “The French did this to our backyard and they have de Gaulle to attack us on Kyoto.”
Australia, like the United States, has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on reducing the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
Howard’s conservative government says compliance would harm the economy and complains that the pact fails to impose similar curbs on pollution by major developing countries such as China and India.
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said Monday he would push with European partners for a carbon tax on industrial goods from countries that ignore the Kyoto Protocol.
“That is a thoroughly silly proposal and utterly out of touch with reality,” Howard told reporters.
“Mind you, (Villepin) does come from a country that is known for imposing high trade barriers against other countries like Australia.”
The Kyoto protocol requires industrialised countries to reduce emissions of six greenhouse gases by 5.2 percent by 2008-2012 compared with their 1990 levels.
UN-sponsored talks are underway in Nairobi to reshape the agreement for the period after 2012 and include rapidly developing economies not bound by the original text.
Villepin said France would present EU members with concrete proposals in the first quarter of 2007 to tax industrial imports from countries that snub Kyoto Protocol requirements after 2012.
“Europe must use all its weight” to counter “environmental dumping”, he said.
Despite his dismissive comments and a continuing refusal to ratify Kyoto, Howard has recently signalled a major policy shift as Canberra scrambles to counter criticism of its environmental policy.
He has proposed a “new Kyoto” and said Tuesday he would back launching an international carbon trading scheme to fight global warming when he meets leaders at this weekend’s APEC summit in Vietnam.
Carbon trading is the centrepiece of the Kyoto pact, which proposes a system under which rich countries are allotted caps for their pollution but which only Europe has begun embracing.
If countries come in under target they can sell any surplus to partners who are above their emissions goal.
Subject: French news