France pushes 'green finance' rules in talks with Biden's climate envoy Kerry

·2-min read

Europe and the United States should agree on common rules to determine how "green" a financial investment is, France's finance minister said on Wednesday after talks with US President Joe Biden's climate envoy.

John Kerry, the US special envoy for climate, is in Europe this week to relaunch trans-Atlantic cooperation in the wake of Biden's decision to rejoin the landmark Paris climate accord.

He visited the French capital on Wednesday, a day after telling EU officials in Brussels that the US has "no better partners" than Europe in the fight against global warming.

During talks in Paris, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire pushed for a common taxonomy for green investments. He said it was important to launch discussions with Washington on carbon border tax adjustments.

"I proposed to [Special Envoy] John Kerry that Europe and the United States have an identical taxonomy," Le Maire told a news conference. "It would be a shame if at the end of the day we had two sets of rules in Europe and the United States."

Le Maire added: "That would be a source of considerable confusion between our two continents."

Asked to respond to the separate suggestion of a carbon border adjustment tax, Kerry said Washington was aware that a number of countries were investigating such a tool.

Such a tax essentially consists of import fees levied by carbon-taxing countries on goods manufactured in non-carbon-taxing countries.

"There are a number of different proposals to assign a price on carbon and the methane and the greenhouse gases creating this damage," Kerry told reporters. "Whether or not we think that's the right tool or not, we have not yet been able to sit down and evaluate that."

He added: "Our friends from France are planning to do a deep dive on it, that could be very constructive and we look forward to hearing from them."

>> In appointing John Kerry to top role, Biden shows he’s serious about climate

The former US secretary of state said signatories of the Paris climate agreement were not doing enough to respect their commitments to limit global warming. He said trillions of dollars were needed to finance the transition to a sustainable future, adding it was possible to find that money with the help of the private sector.

The 2015 Paris climate change accord commits countries to put forward plans for reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which is released from burning fossil fuels. EU leaders reached a hard-fought deal in December to cut the bloc’s net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.

Like the EU, Biden has said that fighting global warming is among his highest priorities. His administration is yet to announce a new national 2030 target for cutting US fossil fuel emissions.