(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

With momentum building in the European Union for tariffs on global carbon free riders, the Morrison government is left with few options except to rail impotently against what it calls, with Trump-level deceit, "protectionism".

Last week the European Parliament backed a motion proposing the adoption of a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) that would impose tariffs on products from countries with lower emissions reductions targets than Australia. The goal is to prevent "carbon leakage" -- whereby economic activity is shifted to other countries with high emissions intensity than Europe.

Scandal-plagued Morrison government minister Angus Taylor says Australia is "dead against" carbon tariffs, as if that mattered to European politicians and the European industries that have to compete with Australian products. The government says it will use the World Trade Organisation to oppose the tariffs "we want a trade liberalization approach, not a protectionist approach," says Trade minister Dan Tehan.