The politics of carbon taxation in France: preferences, institutions, and ideologies
Un article consacré à l'échec de l'adoption de la taxe carbone en France, plus spécifiquement aux obstacles et barrières – à la fois électorales, insitutionnelles et idéologiques – qui peuvent expliquer cet échec. L'article explore également des pistes fiscales et, plus généralement, politiques, qui permettraient une meilleure acceptabilité de la taxe carbone.
Points clés [en anglais] :
THE FRENCH CONTEXT
France’s energy mix leaves 68% of CO2 emissions out of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, thus providing a strong rationale for implementing carbon taxation. Diffuse sources of CO2 emissions such as transport and housing have indeed risen by respectively 9% and 2% between 1990 and 2009. However, three successive governments have failed to implement carbon taxation.
REVEALING THE BARRIERS TO ADOPTION
The policy design and outcome of carbon taxation are critically affected by a series of political factors such as electoral incentives, policy makers’ preferences, institutional rules, and partisan ideologies, which are decisive in explaining the gap between academic and experts proposals and actual policy practice. While electoral incentives and policy makers’ preferences prompted the French government to put carbon taxation back on the political agenda from the beginning of 2009, these same factors downgraded the governmental project with respect to experts’ recommendations several months later. Parties’ ideological preferences and institutional rules, resulting in additional exemptions and a disproportionate fiscal burden on households, then paved the way for the Constitutional Court’s censure of the carbon tax-related articles.
MAXIMIZING THE CHANCES OF ADOPTION OF A FUTURE SCHEME
As public preferences are often critical in influencing the policy outcome of carbon taxation, policy makers should focus on building acceptance through various policy leverages. The introduction of carbon taxation should first be coupled with a decrease of non-carbon content related energy taxes, so as to lessen the overall fiscal burden and smooth out the transition towards an ecological economy. Carbon taxation should also be embedded in a wider set of policies that includes a reform of the income tax system and of environmentally harmful subsidies, so that citizens regain trust in fiscal justice.