PARIS: France's new carbon emission tax, due to have gone into effect tomorrow, has been ruled illegal by the country's constitutional court because it exempted too many polluters.
The Conseil Constitutionnel struck down the tax on Tuesday because the exemptions breached ''the principle of [tax] equality''.
It estimated that 93 per cent of industrial emissions outside of fuel use, including those of more than 1000 of the country's most polluting industrial sites, would be exempt from the tax of €17 ($27) a tonne of emitted carbon dioxide.
The ruling is a blow for the President, Nicolas Sarkozy, as the measure was one of his flagship initiatives to cut emissions. It also leaves the Government with a €4.1 billion hole in its 2010 budget.
Meanwhile, the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has signed a law requiring that Brazil cut its projected greenhouse gas emissions by 39 per cent by 2020, meeting a commitment made at the Copenhagen climate change summit.
At the meeting Brazil announced a ''voluntary commitment'' to reduce CO2 emissions by between 36.1 and 38.9 per cent in 10 years. The cut is not an absolute figure but a decrease on its projected ''business as usual'' emissions.
The new law is subject to several decrees on responsibilities and regulations for the farming, industrial, energy and environmental sectors.
Despite the ambitious targets, Greenpeace's top representative in Brazil, Sergio Leitao, said it was merely a list of good intentions and accused the President of double standards.
The President did veto three provisions in the law, including a reference to promoting the development of clean energy and the gradual phasing out of energy from fossil fuels.