Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has warned Australia’s decision to abandon carbon pricing puts it at risk of being isolated on the world stage.
Mr Shorten made his case for emissions trading during a speech in the United States, where he also urged the Abbott government to make climate change a priority at the G20 summit in November.
The government has attracted criticism as host of the global forum for not including climate change in the discussions, opting to focus specifically on economic growth, trade and investment.
Mr Shorten told the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington DC that as an economic, environmental and security issue, climate change well and truly belonged on the G20 agenda.
“Just as global growth, global free trade and multi-national tax avoidance require international consensus, climate change is a global problem that demands a global solution,” he said.
He conceded climate change had been a “politically difficult issue” for Labor but the party had decided the best policy for tackling global warming was an emissions trading scheme.
The combined value of the world’s ETS markets was more than $30 billion, covering almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and economies ranging from Mexico to California and parts of China.
Australia made international headlines earlier in July when the government became the first country in the world to unwind its carbon pricing scheme.
Mr Shorten described the decision as regrettable but said the more serious risk was that Australia would suffer “damaging economic isolation” as the world moved to take collective action on climate change.
“It will not be long before a lack of climate policy is an obstacle to finalising trade deals,” he said.
“In fact, it is entirely possible that trade negotiations will mandate an effective price on carbon to ensure a level trading field.”