What’s Canada’s Carbon Debt?

Martin Khor, of the South Centre, has done an interesting analysis for the (doomed) Cancun negotiations on climate change. The talks have broken down on north-south lines, with southern countries wanting to keep the Kyoto framework that puts the onus on northern (advanced, industrialized) countries to reduce emissions and give carbon space to southern countries carbon to develop their economies. […]

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The Vision Thing (Anarchy in BC edition)

For many years now, the year 2010 had an almost mythic quality to it. More than just a decade-ending round number (we never collectively named that decade; I like “the naughties” myself), it had deep meaning for BC because THEY WERE COMING. The Olympics. Vancouver 2010. In the early days, utopian olympianism ruled the province. For some, hosting the games […]

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Past peak oil, no emission reductions in sight

The International Energy Agency released its World Energy Outlook the other day, and made some headlines by calling 2006 the year of peak oil production. People have different perspectives on the topic of peak oil – many see it as the point upon which civilization as we know it will collapse; with my climate change hat on, I’ve generally thought […]

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Every bite counts

Our latest Climate Justice Project report, Every Bite Counts: Climate Justice and BC’s Food System, has been unleashed on the province. I have to admit that this was one of the most challenging research projects I’ve ever been part of – the food system is complicated, and overlaying climate change and social justice issues added to that complexity. Thankfully, I […]

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Upset about offsets

A recent story on offsets reported in the Tyee caught my eye. In a nutshell, a residential subdivision development on Denman Island was prevented from going ahead in part because of the magic of carbon offsets. First of all, more conservation by preventing this type of development is a good thing. But in what way is this an offset? To […]

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The trouble with flying

I just got back from a conference in Geneva where I was asked to speak to trade unionists from around the world about our BC climate justice project. In addition to this great opportunity to share information about green jobs and climate policy with a friendly audience, it was also an eye-opener to be in Europe for a little while. […]

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So what’s a green job, anyway?

Today CCPA released a new report by myself and Ken Carlaw, an economist at UBC-Okanagan, called Climate Justice, Green Jobs and Sustainable Production in BC. I doubt you’ll see any headlines about it in the major news dailies, but I think it will have a longer-lasting impact as a key economic framing piece for our Climate Justice Project. In the […]

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BC’s revenue negative carbon tax

BC’s carbon tax was supposed to be “revenue neutral”, meaning all carbon tax revenue would be “recycled” to British Columbians through personal income tax cuts, corporate income tax cuts and a low-income credit. When the 2008 budget launched the carbon tax, we were provided with a forecast that had revenues precisely match recycling through tax cuts and credits, with about […]

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Marc’s Summer Reading

With summer comes a lightening of my work load, so I’ve finally found some time to dive into a few interesting books. These are all related to my ongoing research interests (I do have some fiction sitting around waiting for a real holiday, with Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna at the top of the pile): The Story of Stuff by Annie […]

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BC’s carbon tax turns two

With all of the attention focused on the HST implementation on July 1, most people seemed to miss the next increment of that other much-hated tax, BC’s carbon tax. As of July 1, the carbon tax is now $20 per tonne of CO2, or about 4.6 cents on a litre of gasoline. And like any two-year old, this toddling tax […]

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The Distribution of GHGs in BC

I have a short Climate Justice publication out for Earth Day today, looking at the breakdown of greenhouse gas emissions by income quintile in BC, then asking what is fair when it comes to mitigation policies. I draw on some fairness criteria from the international literature on fair emission reductions, and test out two stylized alternatives to meet a one-third […]

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Carbon calculator for the UK

The Guardian has done a great service by developing and putting on-line this cool carbon calculator. It is a visualization tool that lets ordinary folks, and politicians (as there is an election campaign on right now), plug in their choices about how to meet GHG emission targets. They even share the back end spreadsheet, so we may have to mash […]

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Keeping emissions underground

I was intrigued by a quote in a recent Globe Foundation report on BC’s green economy that BC has 1000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, a “low carbon resource opportunity for both transportation and for export to other economies around the world.” Converting to metric, and using BC government emission factors for combusting natural gas, this would be […]

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Peddling GHGs

My colleague Bill Rees likes to say that fossil fuels are a powerful hallucinogenic drug. We are all addicted to cheap and abundant fossil fuels, and so have reshaped our economy and society in fundamentally unsustainable ways. In a recent post, I highlighted some research that breaks out of the box of counting emissions only where they occur (the standard […]

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Different perspectives on GHG emissions

When emissions are reported for the US or Canada, there is an accounting convention that restricts the total to emissions released within the borders of that jurisdiction. This means that Canada’s exports of tar sands oil are counted only to the extent that fossil fuels are used in the extraction and processing, not the combustion of the final product in […]

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Efficiency vs Resilience

Like most economists, I’m big on efficiency. Even in my personal life I tend to group tasks together so that I save time, and I always feel a bit guilty if I retroactively realize I somehow failed to optimize my behaviour. In my recent work on climate change, efficiency comes up in the context of GHG mitigation; for example, a […]

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Climate inaction and BC’s budget

The 2010 BC Budget was a disappointment on the climate action front. Even as Premier Campbell waxed in the Globe about the impact of climate change on the 2010 Spring Games – with its sunny days, crocuses, daffodils and by the end, cherry blossoms making it fun for people on the street but a big mess up at Cypress Bowl […]

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About that Copenhagen award

Back in December, during the Copenhagen negotiations, a group of environmentalists provided BC Premier Gordon Campbell with an award for climate leadership. Based primarily on the creation of a BC carbon tax two years ago, the Premier has gotten a lot of brownie points from the greens – in spite of the fact that there are some glaring contradictions between […]

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Now for some disaster relief on the homefront

I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at the public response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti. I’ve seen donations being collected through school bake sales, at the liquor store, and on Hockey Night in Canada, among the usual channels for such stuff. It’s nice to know that, collectively, we care, in spite of the neglect of Haiti by our elected governments […]

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Thinking about zero

I’m still coming out of my malaise following the Copenhagen climate conference in December. It’s easy to think that the stupid political brinksmanship is never going to end, and the focus of attention will shift to adaptive measures. But what is more likely is a few more Katrina scale disasters that will serve to spur rapid action, and we’ll then […]

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First the party, then the hangover

It’s shocking to think that the 2010 Winter Games are now exactly one month away. Yes, the banners are dropping down the side of downtown buildings; huge tents are being erected anywhere there is open space; advertising from any but the Olympic sponsors has all but disappeared (I hereby challenge any Olympic athlete to eat McDonald’s daily between now and […]

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Carbon Caps and Capital – You Read It Here First

A TD-Pembina-Suzuki study released seven weeks ago projected that cutting Canada’s carbon emissions by 20% below 2006 levels, or even 25% below 1990 levels, would only modestly reduce overall Canadian GDP. Last week, Jack Mintz critiqued this study for positing a fixed amount of capital investment in Canada. Under this highly dubious assumption, climate policy only shifts capital around between […]

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Copenhagen and carbon budgets

As Copenhagen heads into week two, most of the talk has shifted to targets and timelines, typically something like X% of emissions by 2020 or 2050, relative to 1990 levels. This dating is a legacy of the German delegation in the lead-up to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, who wanted a base year of 1990 because their Eastern halves had […]

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Every revolution is about power

So what does a sustainable economy really look like, and how do we get there? Climate change essentially means a huge mitigation effort on greenhouse gases culminating in something close to zero emissions by mid-century at the latest. This means phasing out fossil fuels entirely; or minimally, if it comes out of the ground emissions have to end up back […]

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Blame Canada!

George Monbiot skewers Canada’s role in climate change, from the tar sands to the international negotiations. Some highlights (notes in original): … Until now I believed that the nation which has done most to sabotage a new climate change agreement was the United States. I was wrong. The real villain is Canada. Unless we can stop it, the harm done […]

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Copenhagen countdown: upset about offsets

The biggest international meeting on climate change, perhaps since Kyoto itself, is coming up in early December in Copenhagen. But the closer we get to Copenhagen, the farther away an agreement seems to be. Sadly, there has been precious little coverage of the ongoing negotiations in the mainstream media, further demonstrating the increasing irrelevance of our daily papers and TV […]

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Dealing with Climate Change, the Economy and Jobs

The David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute should be thanked for their efforts to put forward an integrated economic and emissions reduction strategy for Canada. The study was done to their specifications by M.K. Jaccard and Associates. http://www.davidsuzuki.org/latestnews/dsfnews10290901.asp The really important bottom line of this study is that aggressive action to deal seriously with the challenge of climate change […]

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BC’s GHG emissions shell game

The BC government recently announced a new climate action of some consequence: the phasing out of the Burrard Thermal plant in Metro Vancouver. The unit was used largely for back-up purposes, producing electricity for BC Hydro to supplement hydropower during times of high demand. But at a large GHG cost per unit of energy — about 351 kilotonnes of CO2 […]

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Vancouver bids to be world’s greenest city

Last week, the City of Vancouver’s task force, the Greenest City Action Team, issued a plan for the city with short and longer-term goals and policy advice on achieving them. The report covers more than climate change, a good thing as it is important to identify win-wins that lead to improvement on other environmental, health and social objectives as we […]

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