France to Impose Green Tax on Big Cars

A new green road tax unveiled by the French environment ministry would provide rebates for those who buy small, fuel-efficient cars by taxing buyers of large, gas-guzzling cars and trucks. The scheme would divide vehicles into five categories based on how much they pollute. The middle category — largely mid-size family sedans — would be subject to neither tax nor rebate, but purchasers of vehicles in the upper two categories would pay taxes (up to $4,000 or more), while those buying in the lower two would receive rebates. The move comes on the heels of Paris’ attempt to ban large 4x4s from its streets. City council member Denis Baupin said, “They’re polluters, they’re space-occupiers, they’re dangerous for pedestrians and other road users. They’re a caricature of a car.” (You can imagine a U.S. politician saying that, right?) According to France’s Environmental Health and Safety Agency, some 7 percent of premature deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses in the country, or 30,000 a year, are due to exhaust-related pollution. “[T]he government can no longer remain indifferent,” said Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.