Europe wants to be the first carbon-neutral continent in 30 years. The new boss of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is about to announce a "green deal", one of the effective levers would be to subject the most polluting industrialists to CO2 emission quotas. But be careful not to make them leave, warns our columnist Nicolas Barré.


>> The new head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, wants to revise European climate ambitions upwards. One possibility could be to introduce a "carbon tax" at EU borders, which would oblige all industries operating on its territory or exporting to the EU to minimize their CO2 emissions. An interesting idea, explains our columnist Nicolas Barré, as long as it does not push them to the exit.

While COP 25 has just opened in Madrid, the new European Commission, chaired by Ursula von der Leyen, wants to be ambitious. It is about to announce a "green deal" to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050. One of the effective levers for this is to subject the most polluting manufacturers to CO2 emission quotas. At the moment I am talking to you, 12.000 industrial sites on European soil are subject to quotas: concretely, that means that to produce cement, glass, or even electricity, they have to buy quotas of emission which currently cost around 25 euros per ton.

Moving out of Europe

The idea of ​​Brussels is to extend the list of industries subject to these quotas: shipping, airlines, etc. However, with the risk of penalizing these European manufacturers. Because if you force a glass factory to buy emission allowances, the risk is that it will eventually move out of Europe. And we will not win anything. Hence the idea of ​​introducing a carbon tax at the borders of Europe, and thus taxing imports: for example, glass or steel that comes from China.

The other solution, which comes back to the same thing, is to force non-European industrialists to buy emission allowances themselves if they want to sell their products in Europe. Whatever the solution, Europe is the good news, is determined to show its muscles against the United States and China. Agree to reduce our carbon footprint, but not if it should be done by penalizing our own industry.