EC carbon tax debate resumes

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The Independent Online
THE debate over proposals by the European Commission for a controversial carbon tax will be revived within the next few weeks by the European Parliament, writes Mary Fagan.

Experts have been invited to give evidence on the tax, which would add dollars 10 to the cost of a barrel of oil by the end of the decade but help to combat the greenhouse effect.

Tom Spencer, a Conservative member of the European Parliament, has called for the tax to be introduced in a paper prepared for the Committee on the Environment Public Health and Consumer Protection. 'If we do not find a workable, enforceable and sustainable way of reducing CO2 emissions, the prospects for the future of the planet, not to speak of the shorter-term effects on the quality of human life, will be bleak,' he said.

Support from the Parliament would be a boost for the European Commission, which has already run into heavy opposition from industry and from some national governments. It wanted to introduce the tax this year at a level of dollars 3 on the equivalent of a barrel of oil, rising to dollars 10 by 2000.

The introduction of a carbon tax could have serious implications for the coal and oil industries and would also hit the gas sector.

The Commission estimates it could raise coal costs by 30 per cent in 1995 and by 58 per cent by 2000. By 2000 heavy fuel oil costs would rise by 45 per cent and natural gas for industry by 34 per cent.