French carbon tax plan scrapped
France has backed down from a plan to tax carbon dioxide emissions that had been central to its push for a more prominent role in the fight against climate change.
The plan, launched by president Nichola Sarkozy with much fanfare last September, has been stalled since being ruled unconstitutional in December.
Mr Sarkozy's government had insisted a reworked tax would go into force by July.
Leading conservative Jean-Francois Cope said after meeting the prime minister that they agreed that any carbon tax "would be Europe-wide or not (exist) at all," instead of being a French-only tax.
The tax had been part of France's plan to meet its pledge to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions fourfold from 1990 levels by 2050. Some environmental groups criticised it as not strict enough.
Many within Mr Sarkozy's own conservative party said the opposite and it would disadvantage French companies compared to European rivals.
Among the French, surveys show around two-thirds of people opposed the measure.
The decision to back down on a headline reform that Mr Sarkozy had once compared to decolonization and the repeal of the death penalty comes two days after the president's UMP party suffered a stinging defeat in regional elections.
France's business lobby applauded the government's withdrawal of the plan.
"We are relieved, especially for all the industries that wouldn't have been able to support this new handicap on their competitiveness," the head of business lobby Medef Laurence Parisot said.