The European Parliament has now approved legislation to phase in a levy on high-carbon imports based on the CO2 emitted in producing them. The law is a world-first and awaits final approval from EU countries - expected within a few weeks.
The tax aims to put pressure on countries outside of EU borders to put a price on CO2 emissions - while also countering the benefits to EU industries relocating to regions with weaker environmental laws. As reported by the Wall Street Journal: "The tax gives credit to countries that put a price on carbon, allowing importers of goods from those countries to deduct payments made for overseas emissions from the amount owed at the EU’s borders."
If we take into account the size of the population, China emits 2 times more carbon dioxide per capita than the world average, the EU 1.5 times more and the United States 3 times more. But these figures do not account for emissions associated with imported goods and services, for which much of the production (and carbon footprint) is located in manufacturing countries that still rely heavily on fossil fuels.
When including the impact of products that are used locally but manufactured abroad, the carbon footprint per capita in the EU is higher than in China: 11 tons of CO2 equivalent per year compared to 8. The figure for the United States is 21 tons.