Abbott on carbon trading: ‘non-delivery of an invisible substance to no one’

Minister calls opposition leader ‘an economic illiterate and a climate change denier’ after he attacks emissions schemes

Tony Abbott has branded emissions trading a “so-called market” that deals in an “invisible substance”, carbon dioxide, as the Coalition digs in politically ahead of Labor’s looming overhaul of its clean energy package.

Emissions trading is an internationally recognised market-based mechanism for reducing carbon pollution, and was the policy of the previous Howard government before it lost the election in 2007, but the opposition leader declared on Monday that carbon markets were not true markets because they traded an “invisible substance”.

“This is not a true market,” Abbott told reporters during a campaign visit in Sydney. “Just ask yourself what an emissions trading scheme is all about. It’s a market, a so-called market, in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no one.”

A reporter inquired whether this made carbon markets just the same as financial markets. Abbott repeated his definition: “Let’s think about it. It’s a market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no one.”

The opposition leader contended that the world was turning its back on carbon trading schemes and carbon taxes as policy mechanisms for reducing pollution. “Ever since Copenhagen it has been absolutely obvious that the world is not moving towards taxes, whether they are fixed taxes or floating taxes,” he said. “The world is moving towards the kind of direct action measures to improve the environment which the Coalition has long championed.”

But during a recent appearance on the ABC’s Q&A program, the former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull appeared to suggest that direct action was a temporary policy for the Coalition on the way to joining other countries that have adopted market-based policies.


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