Electrification and Climate I: Scale of the Challenge

Many elements have to come together if Canada is to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions. There is now a technical consensus that “electrification” – the replacement of fossil fuels with electricity as an energy source – is a necessary condition for decarbonization, and that electrification will require that zero/low-emission electricity generation double or triple by 2050. In this […]

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Ontario Electricity VII – Committee Testimony

The PC Government in Ontario has introduced Bill 87 which would eliminate the rate-based borrowing to subsidize electricity prices and replace it with Government borrowing. Last week’s Provincial Budget estimates that the required borrowing to subsidize electricity prices for 2018/19 was $2.8 billion. It is likely to exceed $3 billion in 2019/20. Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America […]

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Ontario Electricity Sector V – What they knew, and when they knew it…

Last month I published a full-length article in the “The Monitor” magazine providing a “how we got here” analysis of the Ontario electricity sector and some options for the next Government.  Since then, two things have changed: first on May 31 two investigative journalists, Carolyn Jarvis and Brian Hill, wrote an excellent story for Global News about how successive Liberal […]

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Ontario’s Electricity Sector IV: Pre-Election Update

My first, second and third posts on the Ontario electricity sector described how policy and administrative decisions by different Liberal Governments gave rise to excess electricity generation with an inflated cost structure, leading to higher electricity prices. In anticipation of June 2018 elections, the Liberal Government recently implemented a costly and first-in-Canada financial scheme to fund its “Fair Hydro Plan” […]

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Fiscal situation of Canada’s ‘oil rich’ provinces

I’ve just written a blog post about the fiscal situation of Canada’s ‘oil rich’ provinces (i.e., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador). It consists of a summary of key points raised at a PEF-sponsored panel at this year’s Annual Conference of the Canadian Economics Association. Points raised in the blog post include the following: -The price of oil is impossible […]

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Ontario’s Electricity Sector III: Legislative & Finance Update

My January and April posts on the Ontario electricity sector described how decisions by different Ontario governments gave rise to excess electricity generation with an inflated cost structure, leading to higher electricity prices. Here I discuss the latest development, the Liberal Government of Ontario’s proposed financial framework for its “Fair Hydro Plan” (FHP). In election mode, the Government tabled Bill […]

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Ontario’s Electricity Sector II: Political Economy Update

This is a third guest post by Edgardo Sepulveda, who is a Toronto-based expert in telecommunications and regulatory economics.  Twitter: @E_R_Sepulveda   By Edgardo Sepulveda In my previous post of January 29 I described how decisions by different Ontario governments gave rise to excess electricity generation with an inflated cost structure, leading to higher electricity prices and increased inequality. Since […]

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Extracted Carbon: Re-examining Canada’s contribution to climate change through fossil fuel exports

We just published a new report, Extracted Carbon: Re-examining Canada’s contribution to climate change through fossil fuel exports, by yours truly. It is part of the Corporate Mapping Project, a new mega research partnership led by CCPA’s Shannon Daub and UVic’s William Carroll. The new report tallies up all of the carbon Canada extracts as fossil fuel that ends up […]

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Canada after Trump: Harold Innis and What to Do When Empires Go Crazy

The Americans shocked the rest of the world by electing Donald Trump last Tuesday. Pierre Trudeau suggested that Canada’s proximity to the US was like “sleeping with an elephant”, and thus Canadians are particularly concerned about what this means. Canada’s most preeminent political economist, Harold Innis, can offer some lessons. Innis is known for the “staples” approach, which examined the […]

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Political Reality and Climate Policy: A Response to Mark Jaccard

Mark Jaccard’s article in Policy Options has generated a lot of interest. It is a provocative article that challenges the economic orthodoxy that prioritizes carbon pricing above all else. Jaccard calls for a host of smart regulations that progressively introduce zero-emission technologies within specific sectors such as vehicles, electricity, housing, and appliances. Political reality is the reason he calls for […]

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Is your pension in climate denial?

Fossil fuel divestment campaigns have become a focus for climate change organizing, targeting university endowments, churches, foundations and pension funds. While the motivations are primarily moral—if it is wrong to wreck the climate, it is wrong to profit from that wreckage—there are important economic arguments for divestment. If we are to have a reasonable chance at staying below 2°C of […]

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Empty Conservative Rhetoric on Pipelines

Letter to the editor in today’s Regina Leader–Post (page A10): A Tory Stunt The Oct. 9 photo accompanying the story “Tory candidates laud pipeline industry” showed pipe produced at Evraz stored outside the fence of another company, where this Conservative campaign stunt was held. The story did not mention that the company concerned uses pipe imported from China, which does […]

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Canada After Harper

Here is the link to buy a new book, Canada After Harper,  edited by Ed Finn and with an introduction by Ralph Nader, just published by Lorimer. Most Canadians know that Stephen Harper has had a tremendous impact on the country since becoming prime minister in 2006. But few have the in-depth knowledge of how far his transformation has gone […]

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Energy and climate in the Harper decade

The costs of climate change are piling up, and can no longer be ignored. 2015 is poised to be a landmark year, with a new global treaty on climate to be signed in Paris. In contrast, the Harper decade succeeded in stalling any meaningful climate action. The PM’s record is not just of neglect, but of moving the yardsticks backwards […]

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BC’s Carbon Emissions on the Rise

It was a good story while it lasted. Over the past few years, the BC government and many in the policy community have spun a tale about the remarkable success of BC’s climate action policies, with a big spotlight on the carbon tax as a driver of lower emissions while BC’s economy outperformed the rest of the country. In BC’s case, […]

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Homelessness in Canada’s North

Over at the blog of Northern Public Affairs, I’ve written a post titled “Ten Things to Know About Homelessness in Canada’s North.” Topics covered in the post include the high cost of construction in many parts of the North, the relatively high costs of operating housing in the North, and declining federal funding for social housing in the North. The […]

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Thinking Through the Fall-Out of Lower Oil Prices

Canada’s economic and fiscal debates in recent months have been dominated by the possible impacts of the sudden fall in oil prices since last autumn on growth, employment, and fiscal balances.  Finance Minister Joe Oliver delayed the budget, the Bank of Canada shocked markets with a rate cut, and Alberta Premier Jim Prentice is now promising a shock-and-awe austerity budget […]

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Low-carbon urban infrastructure: a view from Vancouver

I have a new case study (full pdf; summary article from the publishers) out as part of the Economists for Equity and Environment‘s Future Economy Initiative. I look at the City of Vancouver’s Neighbourhood Energy Utility (NEU), a low-carbon district energy system that hits a sweet spot of clean energy, local control, and stable prices at competitive rates. The NEU arose as part […]

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Trudeau, Carbon Pricing, Regional Politics, and Technology Policy

Yesterday, Justin Trudeau appeared to be backing away from a national carbon price. He says some of the provinces have already implemented carbon pricing, so the federal government will be left to “oversee”. What Trudeau is actually saying isn’t quite clear, but it certainly seems like he is giving up on creating a national carbon price and leaving it to […]

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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 movement. A large majority of […]

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Don’t believe the (LNG) hype

Today we released a new report, Path to Prosperity? A Closer Look at British Columbia’s Natural Gas Royalties and Proposed LNG Income Tax, about liquefied natural gas (LNG ) development in BC, and the public revenues that might be expected. So far, LNG has lacked a real public debate. On one side, we have the drumbeat of the business press with […]

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The IMF and Progressive Economics in Canada

It is interesting to note that the most recent IMF staff report on Canadian economic issues echoes some key concerns of progressive economists. I have reported these for the Broadbent Institute. As noted in this summary, the IMF report that corporate Canada’s cash hoard is the biggest in the G7 and has been mainly amassed by energy and mining companies. […]

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BC proposes LNG tax

I posted this on CCPA’s BC Policy Note blog but others across Canada should pay attention to BC’s quest for LNG gold. I’d also recommend this comparison of the Quebec and BC budgets by Michal Rozworski, which highlights the stubborn emphasis on natural resource development in both budgets. It’s like the tax cut culture has so permeated Canadian politics that […]

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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 LNG B.C.’s big favour? It’s […]

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