France to tax nuclear to fund clean energy

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault addresses the environmental conference on Saturday
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault addresses the environmental conference on Saturday AFP
2 min

France is to tax its huge nuclear fuel programme to help pay for the transition to clean energy. Fossil fuels will also be taxed in an effort to cut down on carbon emissions and reduce global warming.


Closing a two-day conference on the environment in Paris on Saturday, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault gave details of proposed timeframes to reach previous pledges to cut France's emissions of greenhouse gases.

The tax on fossil fuels will be replace existing taxes and is expected to bring in four billion euros in 2016.

But Ayrault said the government will not rush the transition.

"Part of the tax on the consumption of fossil fuels will be calculated according to the carbon emissions arising from their use, and that applies to gasoline, diesel fuel, coal and natural gases," he told the conference.

"I hope this reform is very gradual. It will respect our commitment to stable taxation. In 2014, the first year of implementation, the impact of the carbon component on fuel and heating oil will be zero. Afterwards this measure will amount to 2.5 billion euros in 2015 and four billion in 2016."

There has been growing tensions between Ayrault's Socialists and their coalition partners in the Green party (EELV) in the run-up to the conference.

But Housing Minister Cécile Duflot made it clear that her party will not quit the government.

"Now there are targets that the whole government must work for," she said. "Ecological transition is useful for the whole country - it's as simple as that."

But MEP Noël Mamère was less enthusiastic.

"The only concrete measure is the decision to reduce VAT on insulation to 5.0 per cent," he said. "As for the rest, all that's being offered is nice speeches whose only purpose is to allow some of my ecologist friends to say 'We'll stay in the government'."

What the proposals will mean in practice should become clearer when the government unveils its 2014 budget on Wednesday.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning