Carbon Taxes, Imports and Jobs
I note that the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has called for a carbon tax on imports into the EU if Europe’s trading partnersÂ do not take actions to reduce emissions similar to those of the EU. (text follows.) The aim is to ensure that jobs in European heavy industry are not lost to lower-cost imports as costly nvestments are made in Europe to promote greater carbon efficiency.
This strikes me as a reasonable demand, that should be incorporated in future global climate change agreements.
To the extent that Canada does move ahead of the USÂ in terms of putting a significant price on carbon, we might think about a carbon tax on imports.Â ThisÂ might also be applied to imports from Asia.
The ETUC urges the Commission to reintroduce the carbon tax on imports in the future climate change legislation
Just days before publication of the European Commissionâ€™s “Energy and Climate Change” package, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has read the latest versions of the documents being drawn up by the EU executive. It notes with great concern that the issues of employment and social transition have been left out of the package. The ETUC consequently calls on the Commission to amend its proposal on these key points.
“It is paradoxical that, while the employment argument is used extensively in the Member States, either to oppose or to support more stringent measures to combat climate change, the Commission acts as if this question did not exist at European level“, commented ETUC General Secretary John Monks.It is imperative to revise three points:
Â the introduction of a carbon tax on imports
In parallel with the greater commitments imposed, it is essential for the Union to protect heavy industry in Europe, and the corresponding jobs, against unfair competition from countries not willing to make the same effort. The risks for the competitiveness of energy-intensive sectors have been demonstrated by a number of scientific studies, including one carried out for the ETUC in 2007.
“A solution exists to keep employment and the planet from being the losers: an import compensation mechanism, such as a carbon tax, which would equalize carbon costs for companies outside Europe and in Europe. While allowing a considerable effort to be demanded from industry, such a system would keep heavy industry and jobs in Europe“, explained John Monks. “It is unacceptable for this proposal to be relegated in the Commissionâ€™s documents to the rank of a mere option, which could be decided in 2011 after a review of the situation.” For the ETUC, this is not a protectionist measure: “We want heavy industry to make a significant contribution, but in a system that gives it time to make the necessary modernisation investments and offers adequate incentives. That is the originality of our position, and we wish to see it taken further into account by environmental NGOs and industry.”