A Green Industrial Revolution

Today the CCPA released a new big picture report by myself and student researcher Amanda Card calling for a Green Industrial Revolution. The report builds on work done for the BC-focused Climate Justice Project, bringing to bear a national analysis of green and not-so-green jobs. We take a close look at GHG emissions and employment by industry category, and show […]

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The Parable of the Prius

I was at a talk on dematerialization a few weeks ago, and one of the speakers told “the parable of the Prius” to illustrate Jevon’s paradox that efficiency gains do not necessarily reduce energy consumption (and from a climate perspective, greenhouse gas emissions). In the case of buying a fuel-efficient Prius, one saves a lot on gas bills but may […]

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Enbridge Pipe Dreams and Nightmares

CCPA released today a report by yours truly on the economic costs and benefits of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. In particular, I take aim at the outrageous claims about jobs made by the feds and Enbridge as part of their sales pitch. The report takes a closer look at the input-output modelling of job impacts, and considers alternative investments of $5 billion […]

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Air travel and carbon footprint

A bi-annual vehicle emissions test got me thinking about my personal carbon footprint. A lot broad-brush numbers and calculators exist out there to calculate one’s footprint, but I’ve never found them to be very reliable because they have to generalize across a very heterogeneous population in terms of location, type of dwelling and size, family size, and fuel sources. For […]

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The Universal Student Transit Pass

I have an opinion piece out on the City of Ottawa’s universal, student transit pass–also known as “the U-Pass.” Points raised in the op-ed include the following: -U-Pass programs exist for roughly 30 universities and colleges across Canada. -For a U-Pass program to be introduced, students typically must vote in favour of the program in student referenda. -When there is a […]

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Odious profits and the Enbridge pipeline

Two obvious but generally unstated details about the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline are climate change and that oil and gas companies stand to make mega-profits. An honest appraisal of the project would be something like, “yes, putting in the pipeline will facilitate even more greenhouse gas emissions from the Alberta oil sands, but our buddies stand to make bucketloads of […]

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Are Enbridge’s job numbers credible?

Putting aside the impact of the proposed Enbridge pipeline on GHG emissions or spills on land and at sea, the case in favour of the pipeline rests on creating jobs. Personally, I think industry and government use “jobs” as a euphemism for “profits” as that is where the lion’s share of revenues go. But for the moment let’s consider the […]

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The New Politics Initiative: Ten Years After

Rabble.ca is running a series of reflections on the tenth anniversary of the New Politics Initiative, which sought to create a more democratic politics in Canada ideally as part of a revitalized NDP. The vision statement is here; my piece follows, and there are also contributions from Judy Rebick and Jim Stanford. Altogether these make for a timely reflection on directions for […]

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On climate, Canada is a rogue state

On Sunday, CTV leaked Canada’s intentions to pull out of the Kyoto treaty process on climate change. What is significant about Kyoto is that it is a legally binding international treaty, and one that puts the onus of emission reductions on the countries that have done the most to cause the problem (and who have most benefitted in their industrialization through […]

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Who Occupies the Sky?

CCPA released a new report today by myself and Amanda Card that makes the links between inequality and carbon footprints. We look at the distribution of greenhouse gas emissions for Canada, building on an analysis of BC emissions. While it was not planned this way, the analysis is timely given the Occupy movement’s focus on surging inequality and movements for […]

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The Ontario NDP Platform

Pollsters tell us that Ontario’s New Democrats may double their seat total in next month’s provincial election. It’s also entirely conceivable that they could be part of a coalition government at Queen’s Park. But what’s actually in the party’s election platform? One central feature of the NDP’s proposals is to implement a tax credit for companies that hire new workers. The tax credits would be valued at […]

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Canada’s GHG commitment problem

For the past decade, Canada’s GHG emission targets were framed by the Kyoto Protocol, in which Canada committed to a 6% reduction in emissions by 2012 relative to 1990 levels (590 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or Mt CO2e). In spite of signing this treaty and its ratification through Parliament in 2002, Canada has continued to increase emissions. In […]

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Notes on the social cost of carbon

A recent paper by Ackerman and Stanton did some re-estimates of the Social Cost of Carbon, finding this measure of the externality (or costs imposed on third parties) from burning fossil fuels could be as high as $893 per tonne of CO2, rising to $1,500 per tonne by 2050. These are extreme estimates, but they are calculated using a conservative […]

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Decarbonizing homes and the price of gas

Our climate justice framework for BC is to eliminate fossil fuels by 2040. In the household sector, this poses a significant challenge, not so much in terms of technology and knowledge, but because natural gas is much cheaper than electricity per unit of energy. Even though BC has among the lowest prices in North America, and for relatively clean electricity […]

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Home energy retrofits: part one

I was in the budget lock-up in Ottawa back in 2009, when the feds announced a home renovation tax credit as part of the stimulus package, and one of my first thoughts was “kitchen reno”. Months later we had a nice kitchen upgrade to enjoy as our contribution to getting the Canadian economy back on track. I’m basically the marginal […]

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Deconstructing BC’s carbon neutral government

Besides the carbon tax, one of the most important BC government climate action initiatives has been the adoption of Carbon Neutral Government. That is, count emissions from public buildings and travel, reduce them as much as possible and pay for carbon offsets to negate the rest. As of the 2010 calendar year, the BC government announced mission accomplished, at the […]

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Is BC about to drop a new carbon bomb?

Any day now the BC government should be releasing the latest greenhouse gas data for the province, and we will see if any progress is being made towards a legislated 33% reduction in emissions by 2020 (relative to 2007 levels; data will be for 2009 and we know that emissions rose in 2008). Below the radar, however, and not counted […]

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A billion dollars of bogus carbon credits

A story in today’s Vancouver Sun is disturbing, arguing that BC could make $1 billion from selling carbon offsets once the Western Climate Initiative gets underway. The projects are mostly in forest management and conservation, meaning less cutting and more sequestration of carbon in the forests themselves. The conservation part is undoubtedly a good thing — we need to manage […]

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Envisioning a Transportation Transformation

Just in time for Earth Day, CCPA has a new release from the Climate Justice Project, Transportation Transformation: Building Complete Communities and a Zero-Emission Transportation System in BC. The report is perhaps the most visionary of our CJP publications to date (and has lots of great graphics to illustrate that vision), a necessity given that 40% of BC’s greenhouse gas […]

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Next generation carbon pricing

Climate change is upon us – it feels like we see evidence almost daily in the form of extreme weather events, floods, drought, reductions in food supply, and so on. We have a lot of work to do to transform our economy from one still dominated by a resource extraction mindset, where we cut taxes and regulations in the hopes […]

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Songs of the Doomed

There is a lot of talk on this blog and elsewhere about how best to get the economy going again, but it seems that the environment is missing in action from the debate. At best, climate change is a concern mentioned in passing, only to move on to the real action of boosting GDP growth rates and employment (will corporate […]

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Memo to the new Environment Minister

With a government as centrally controlled as our federal government, one has to wonder why the media make such a fuss covering cabinet shuffles. Peter Kent may be the new Environment Minister, but the message box is still from the Prime Minister’s Office. So it was not much surprise to  see our new Environment Minister touting the same old lines […]

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