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EU sees carbon border levy as ‘matter of survival’ for Europe’s industry

EurActiv & Reuters

If UN climate summit (COP26) fails to deliver, the EU will press ahead with unilateral carbon border taxes, EU official warns.

The European Union’s proposed carbon border charge is essential to the survival of its own industries and the bloc will impose the levy on non-EU competitors unless they commit to lowering their emissions, the bloc’s climate policy chief said on Monday.

The EU’s executive Commission is expected to propose its carbon border adjustment policy before the end of June as part of a broader package of climate laws aiming to cut emissions by 55% before the end of the decade.

“It’s a matter of survival of our industry. So if others will not move in the same direction, we will have to protect the European Union against distortion of competition and against the risk of carbon leakage,” European Commission executive vice-president Frans Timmermans told an online event hosted by consultancy Global Counsel.

“Carbon leakage” would occur if companies left Europe to avoid the cost of its emissions-cutting policies.

That said, Timmermans also expressed hope that other major emitters will soon adopt carbon pricing policies as well, citing China’s pledge to go carbon neutral by 2060 and pledges by the incoming US administration to rejoin the Paris Agreement.

“The more countries and regions adopt caron pricing mechanisms, the less need there will be for adjustments mechanisms at the border, and that’s what we’re pushing for,” he said.

Globally, industry is under pressure to ramp up climate action ahead of a United Nations summit in November, which serves as a deadline for nearly 200 countries to pledge deeper emissions cuts.

If that meeting fails to deliver, the EU will press ahead with unilateral carbon border measures, Timmermans said.

Europe’s plan to make huge investments in cleaning up industry will have a “cost effect” on companies that must be addressed, he said.

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