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Archive for 'climate change'

Financial Risk and Alberta’s Tar Sands

When it comes to global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that what matters is the total volume of greenhouse gas emissions going forward. This amounts to about 30 years of emissions at current levels – a global carbon budget that would provide the world a 66% chance of staying below 2°C. There is some debate […]

Will Enbridge’s pipeline ever get built?

You have to wonder why the Harper government bothered with process at all. It’s like there was never any doubt that Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline would get approved. But historians may look back on this moment as the beginning of the end of pipeline politics. Opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline is BC’s largest social […]

Fur trade and tar sands

Here is Joseph Boyden talking with the Globe and Mail last fall about his novel Orenda: “You look at this novel and you think immigration, who you allow in and who you don’t. The Hurons allow in the ones who ulimately destroy them, because the Huron aren’t perfect either. They need the trade, and how […]

Staples Redux: Oil and Honey

Oil is a staple. Honey isn’t. That’s the point. The odd coupling comes from Bill McKibben’s most recent book, which is titled “Oil and Honey.” Oil is crude. Honey is sweet. That says it all. The central point that McKibben is making is that oil is global and honey is local, and that the disruptive […]

BC’s Big Favour? LNG Exports and GHG Emissions

The hype on LNG has grown to staggering proportions. I have not had much time to debunk all of the government’s grotesque exaggerations and outright falsehoods. But Christy Clark’s claim that BC is “doing the world a favour” by exporting LNG to Asia made me write this oped, which got picked up in today’s Vancouver Sun: Is […]

Carbon budgets and Canada’s share of global reserves

The idea of a global carbon budget is not new, but has been growing in prominence. Carbon Tracker picked up on it in its seminal Unburnable Carbon report, and Bill McKibben amplified that message in his landmark Rolling Stone article, Global Warming’s Terrifying Math, which launched the fossil fuel divestment movement. Then more recently, the […]

Global carbon budget is a harsh reality check for Canadian investors

The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should be a wake-up call for Canada. With a development model based on ever more fossil fuel extraction, Canada’s economy and financial markets are on a collision course with the urgent need for global climate action. The IPCC, for the first time, stated an […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Marc Lee

As part of our continuing series of commentaries celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth,” we present the following commentary by Marc Lee, economist with the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.  Marc considers the implications — both economic and environmental — of the current […]

Why the City of Vancouver should divest from fossil fuels

This is the text of remarks I made today to Vancouver city council on divestment. Earlier this year, Council requested that staff report back on how the city’s financial investments align with the city’s mission and values, and various ethical programs like the city’s purchasing policy and the greenest city initiative. So the meeting was […]

IPCC: Time for a Global Carbon Budget

Political commitments on climate action, to the extent they exist, are usually pitched in terms of targets and timelines. BC, for example, has a legislated target of 33% below 2007 levels by 2020; Canada’s official target is a 17% reduction by 2020 relative to 2005 levels. Neither target will be met under status quo policy, […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Introduction to a Special Blog Series

In my job as economist for Unifor (and before that the CAW), I have had a long-time interest in more sustainable and sensible policies for managing Canada’s resource wealth. The challenge, given the lucrative but fleeting nature of resource booms, is to leverage Canada’s resource wealth in a manner that stimulates a more diversified, inclusive, […]

Memo to Obama: Canada’s carbon problem IS the tar sands

Canada’s Harper-ment is getting increasingly desperate. The quest to double production out of the Alberta tar sands needs new pipelines (or rail). In recent months, we have seen new proposals for pipelines to the west and to the east, amid further delays of the KeystoneXL pipeline to the south. The success of US activists (environmentalists, […]

The absurdity and injustice of now

I’m back from a short sabbatical, grateful for some time outside of my daily work and home life, feeling all big picture. But as I settle back into work, I feel like I’m seated in a Theatre of the Absurd play. My news feeds are pulling up astonishing things. Exhibit one: the North Pole at the […]

Is new coal export infrastrucutre in the best interest of BC and Canada

Today’s CBC Edition Business Panel focused on the proposal by Fraser Surrey Docks to build a new coal terminal on the Fraser river to export US thermal coal (if you missed it, here’s the recording starting at 1:50). This may seem like a local issue for the West Coast, but the arguments stand for most […]

Are Canadian investors headed for a carbon cliff?

An oped based on my and Brock Ellis’ recent report, Canada’s Carbon Liabilities, was published in iPolitics (alas, behind a pay wall): Canada’s economic development model is on a collision course with the urgent need for global climate action. Worldwide, extreme weather events from drought to floods to powerful storms and record-breaking temperatures are making […]

Climate justice and the political moment in BC

The following is based on a talk at the Bring Your Boomers election forum on April 3 at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver, the fourth in a series of intergenerational dialogues from Gen Why Media, and was co-sponsored by the CCPA, Get Your Vote On, LeadNow and Vancity credit union. I was asked to set the stage for a conversation on climate justice between […]

Absolving our Carbon Sins: the Case of the Pacific Carbon Trust

Last week’s report from BC’s Auditor General dealt a huge blow to the credibility of carbon offsets and claims that BC had achieved a state of “carbon neutral government.” Coverage of the AG’s report was coloured by accusations from the Pacific Carbon Trust, the Crown corporation created to buy and sell BC offsets, and “experts” from the offset […]

Closing the Loop: Zero Waste, GHG Emissions and Green Jobs in BC

Below is the summary for our latest Climate Justice Project report, Closing the Loop: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Creating Green Jobs through Zero Waste in BC (I recommend checking the much prettier full paper, stand-alone summary, and awesome infographic by Sam Bradd on the website). Closing the Loop was a complex and challenging project that made my head spin, […]

Carbon bubbles and fossil fuel divestment

Divestment from fossil fuels is an idea whose time has come. Sparked by Bill McKibben’s Rolling Stone article last summer, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math”, divestment campaigns are now up and running on over 300 university campuses in the US, with 4 early victories already notched. Students in Canada have declared tomorrow (March 27) Fossil Fools Day, a national day […]

Tales from the Mouth of the Fraser: Climate Change Denial Edition

Some colleagues at the US NGO Global Exchange tipped me off to some sneaky data doctoring done by the Fraser Institute on climate change. The source is Understanding Climate Change: Lesson Plans for the Classroom, a resource for high school teachers. The particular graph is on page 69 (first page if you click on Lesson 5), […]

GHG Cap & Trade

This is a guest blog post written by Whitehorse-based economist, Luigi Zanasi.  Please feel free to comment.  Also, please note that this was written before Marc’s blog post of Jan. 14 re: BC’s carbon tax. – Towards a fair cap & trade system for GHG emissions In the last two federal elections, the NDP quite […]

Marc’s Enbridge Testimony

Testimony to the Joint Review Panel on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project By Marc Lee, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives January 16, 2013 My name is Marc Lee, and I have served as an economist for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives for more than 14 years. Most recently I have been Senior Economist and […]

What’s next for BC’s carbon tax?

An oped of mine was published by the Vancouver Sun today: What’s next for BC’s carbon tax? Marc Lee Climate change forced its way onto the political agenda in 2012, as Hurricane Sandy ripped through the northeast United Stages just days before the election. And while action remains frustratingly slow, extreme weather disasters in the […]

Marc’s Letter from 2040

The following comes from a short talk on a vision for a zero-carbon BC that I gave at a couple events this Fall. Many have asked for the text so I’ve posted it here, and we may try and turn it into a video. That said, I have been reluctant to do so up to […]

Will Frankenstorm put climate change back on the political radar?

In recent years the world has experienced a sequence of climate-change-related disasters. Hurricane Sandy comes on top of massive drought through the summer that has led to 40% loss of American corn and other grain crops, raging wildfires in the southeast US, tornados and derechos, etc – and that is just the US. Check out […]

BC’s Natural Gas Strategy nothing more than a fairy tale

I have an oped in Saturday’s Vancouver Sun. The editor wanted me to focus on the claims of economic gains for BC, so the piece ended up being a complementary piece to the Behind the Numbers report on GHG emissions and the Natural Gas Strategy. The title was his choice not my own, but I like […]

Is BC breaking its GHG law by pursuing natural gas development?

Today CCPA’s Climate Justice Project released a new report by yours truly, BC’s Legislated Greenhouse Gas Targets vs Natural Gas Development: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. It was just five years ago that BC brought in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act, a signal that BC was serious about climate action. The Act calls for a 33% […]

What’s Next for BC’s Carbon Tax?

The Minister leading up BC’s Carbon Tax Review, Kevin Falcon, may be gone – his departure came just as the deadline for submissions was closing – but the carbon tax lives on. For now. Back in 2008 when the carbon tax was announced, it was scheduled to rise from an initial level of $10 per […]

Canada’s Emissions Deception

The federal government released an updated Canada’s Emission Trends 2012 report today. In a remarkable shift in federal rhetoric just this past week, the Harperites now appear to be more sensitive to concerns about the Enbridge pipeline and climate change more generally. But appearances can be deceiving and there is good reason to believe the current […]

Dutch disease actually Canadian disease

Resources(\”staples\”) trap is Canadian Disease