The French Government has launched plans for a carbon tax in a bid to encourage industry and household to cut energy consumption.The move will mean a rise in French fuel prices and the cost of heating factories and homes. The tax is being set initially at 17 euros for every tonne of carbon dioxide emissions. Critics say the new tax will hurt the poor in already difficult times. But President Sarkozy is undaunted. He said: “We set a target to reduce by nearly 40 per cent energy consumption in buildings and homes by 2020, not only because we want to excel in renewable energy but we want to be exemplary in the economies of energy. We can no longer afford to waste energy. “ But what Mr Sarkozy takes with one hand he says he will give back with another. And as a sweetener those in France who pay income tax will get a refund. And those households too poor to pay income tax wil receive so called “green cheques” from the state to compensate for higher energy bills. For a tax-paying family of four living in urban areas the refund will be 112 euros. The same family living in the country will be credited with a 142 euros because they use their cars more. Sarkozy insists by introducing the new tax he is not trying to fill state coffers. Rather, he wants to encourage French people and companies to change their energy consumption habits.