The true environmental cost

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The concept of ecotaxes on imported products resurfaced at the UN Climate Change Conference in Nairobi. Nelly Olin, French Minister for Environment, announced that France would apply a carbon tax on industrial products imported from non-signatory countries to the Kyoto Protocol… after 2012.

This could have been an exciting proposal: ecotaxes are one mechanism to prize and internalize a product's environmental cost. Ecotaxes on imported goods are also highly controversial, seen by many as a disguised barrier to trade. I could just picture the United States taking the dispute to the WTO - or the European Commission, cringing at this infringement of its trade mandate.

Unfortunately for those of us eager to see an international ecotax system blossom, this will not be the first step towards it. The proposal is for 2012. So, dare I say, a mere political move, possibly another one of France's little nudges against the US?

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