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Carbon border fees

Carbon border fees 10 November 2020

Carbon border fees: EU eyes new ways to cut emissions for imports

 Kate Abnett

The European Union’s plan to impose carbon border fees on polluting imported goods would initially apply to steel, cement and electricity, but could expand to more sectors later, a senior official has said.

As part of its aim to cut EU greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, the European Commission is drafting plans to levy the fees on goods coming into the 27–country bloc.

The policy, which the Commission will propose next summer, aims to protect EU industry from being undercut by cheaper imports from countries with less stringent climate policies. But it is not yet clear how authorities will measure the level of pollution, or carbon intensity, of goods or how variable the fees will be.

The Commission, the executive body of the European Union, plans to roll out the policy by 2023 in a few sectors with relatively low international trade flows, to help simplify what is expected to be a legally and technically complex mechanism.

“The core sectors are indeed steel, cement and electricity,” Diederik Samsom, head of the Commission’s climate cabinet, told an online event organised by Politico.

This could be extended later to aluminium, fertilisers and chemicals, he said.

Samsom said the world’s least developed countries and those with equivalent carbon–pricing policies to Europe could be exempted from the levy.

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