Most French oppose idea of carbon tax: poll

PARIS Fri Sep 4, 2009 6:18am EDT

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PARIS (Reuters) - Most French people oppose the idea of France taxing the use of fuel as part of a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and battle climate change, according to an opinion poll published on Friday.

The government has said it will introduce the carbon tax next year, but there is still high level wrangling over how hefty it should be, with ministers testing public reaction to the new levy.

Underscoring the potential for trouble, a survey carried out by polling group CSA found 74 percent of respondents opposed a carbon tax, with 56 percent of those very opposed.

Many viewed the tax as unfair "because it penalizes people who are obliged to use their cars every day," the poll said.

The proposed tax has sparked heavy criticism from intensive users of fuel such as farmers and fishermen who will see the cost of a liter of petrol rise as a result.

In an interview set to appear in Saturday's edition of Figaro magazine, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the government intended to set the levy at an initial 14 euros for every metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted.

However, an official quoted President Nicolas Sarkozy as saying a final decision had not yet been made, undercutting his prime minister. Sarkozy met ministers to discuss the issue on Friday but no details of their discussions emerged.

Fillon told Figaro magazine the government was studying ways to soften the blow for the country's poorest households.

(Reporting by Tamora Vidaillet; Editing by Andy Bruce)

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