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This week: CO2 can’t live with so much of it -but what can be done about it?

Text by Eve IRVINE

Latest update : 2009-07-14

As France examines the possibility of putting in place a carbon tax, ENVIRONMENT looks at the problems CO2 is already creating around the world.

Paris’s main ring road see’s over 1 million 250,000 cars whiz around it every day. It’s responsible for 4% of the regions CO2 emissions, that’s the equivalent of the country’s biggest airport, Charles de Gaulle.


This week ENVIRONMENT looks at CO2 as France looks at how it can reduce it’s emission and reach set targets by 2020.


Since Sweden put in place a carbon tax back in 1991 it has cut its CO2 emissions by over 10% all the while enjoying economic growth of over 40%. As the Swedish government took over the reigns of the rotating EU Presidency it called on fellow countries of the Union to introduce similar green taxes. France is currently weighing up the pros and cons.


Ecologists have proposed agreen tax called an environmental contribution. This would make people pay more for their energy consumption. For example, every time an individual or a company buys petrol they would have to pay a carbon price. It would be around 7 cents per litre, an average of 70 euros per vehicle per year.


But consumer associations are up in arms saying that the measures will be unfairly costly for those who don’t have any choice but to use their car.


Lorry drivers are worried too; they say the tax will put them at a disadvantage to their European counterparts. To avoid this, France is thinking about putting a tax on it’s borders.


"If only a few countries engage in reducing emissions and not others then it would be legitimate to put a system in place whereby a carbon tax would be imposed on the borders. In that way every time a product was imported which wasn't subjected to the same 'norms' of production in relation to emissions, this would have to pay the carbon price. It is something that is possible and has been discussed for a number of years. France supports the idea and today the WTO has recognised that this is one way in which we can fight against global warming," explains Benoit Faraco of the green group Nicolas Houlot which is one of the authors of the proposed tax.


While governments and companies work out how to curb CO2 emissions, navigator Olivier Pitras spent a year traveling the high northern seas to see for himself the effect that climate change is already having on countries and communities. Polar bears it appears are dining out on it but while some locals see the benefits warmer climates might bring, Greenland is very literately on thin ice.


Finally, accepting that there is already too much CO2 in the atmosphere, Europe has begun looking for ways of dealing with the current excess. Scientists are looking at storing it underground in CO2 sinks.


At the only on-land site in Germany, tons of CO2 have already been pumped down under where water-filled sandstone absorbs the unwanted gas. The upper layer of rock needs to be impermeable to prevent it rising up again, so far so good, thanks to this European project, millions of tons of the greenhouse gas has already been buried but analysts warn that this should only be seen as a short term solution.



Date created : 2009-07-13