BusinessEurope warms to Macron’s EU carbon tariff idea

(EurActiv, 29 Apr 2019) Marking a departure from its existing policy, Europe’s biggest business lobby group said it was discussing backing a carbon tariff at the EU’s border in order to restore a level playing field with countries like China or the US, which do not impose a pollution constraint on their industries.

“For the first time, we have discussed a carbon adjustment mechanism,” Markus J. Beyrer, director general of trade association BusinessEurope, told a press briefing on Monday (29 April).

“We try to show other big players in the world that we are not only committed to reaching our [climate] targets but also to enforce it,” Beyrer said at the briefing, aimed at presenting BusinessEurope’s new strategies on climate change and trade policy.

French President Emmanuel Macron has championed proposals to impose a carbon tariff at Europe’s external border for countries that don’t sign up to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Such a “border adjustment mechanism” is needed “to avoid penalising our companies because of our climate commitments,” the French president said during a visit to Brussels last year.

A stock-taking exercise on the Paris Agreement will take place at the global level in 2023, and carbon tariffs could be considered as an option “if other big economies do not converge with Europe” on climate policy, BusinessEurope said.

“We are ready to discuss this as a measure of last resort,” Beyrer explained in reply to a question from EURACTIV about the event that would push BusinessEurope to formally back Macron’s carbon tariff idea.

Although still at the exploratory stage, the internal discussion at BusinessEurope is nonetheless significant. Until now, the EU’s main business lobby group had firmly rejected any talks about a carbon tariff, fearing that it would trigger a trade war with Europe’s trading partners.

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EurActiv, 29 Apr 2019: BusinessEurope warms to Macron’s EU carbon tariff idea