Prosperity and sustainability

UBC’s David Boyd takes on dinosaur-in-chief Terence Corcoran on the nexus between environment and economy, and Canada’s lagging rankings: Old ideas produce heat, not light … The myth that nations must choose between economic prosperity and a healthy environment has been conclusively debunked.Countries including Sweden, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands are similar to Canada with respect to per capita incomes, […]

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Hewers of Wood, Pumpers of Oil and Gas

The Dominion Institute has recruited twenty great Canadian thinkers to write about what the country might look like in 2020. The fourteen essays currently posted include Don Drummond’s neo-classical analysis of manufacturing and productivity and Jim Stanford’s excellent analysis of Canada’s reliance on natural resources. Jim’s main argument, that Canada’s unmanaged resource boom is damaging other industries and our natural environment, […]

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Scientists call for action on toxic chemicals

A letter to the Prime Minister from Scientists For A Healthy Environment, which doubles as an effective critique of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act: Dear Prime Minister, We are writing to encourage your Government to make significant improvements to Canada ‘s overarching pollution law, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Canada has a growing pollution problem that is a threat […]

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Regulating toxic chemicals

“Canada’s New Government improves protection against hazardous chemicals” says the press release. This item fits in the “ounce of prevention” file, but is also another one for the “opportunistic Harper government” file.On prevention, Canada has been slowly getting its act together with regard to the growing evidence that thousands of untested and unregulated chemicals in the environment are connected with […]

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Global warming and boiling water

What is the economic cost of a boil water advisory for two million people in Vancouver? (Ironically, it has been raining a lot – but households and businesses cannot easily capture it.) How about the cost of restoring power to a hundred thousand homes after a freak storm? Or the cost of sandbagging properties on the coast to prevent a […]

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Peak oil meets climate change

This article in the Vancouver Sun features a new report saying that we are not near “peak oil”: In sharp contrast to popular doomsday scenarios in which an oil supply crash triggers a global economic crisis, a U.S. energy think tank says the world has almost four times the oil supply envisioned by the pessimists. Cambridge Energy Research Associates … […]

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Environmental externalities of transportation

Statistics Canada’s Human Activity and the Environment 2006 report (summary from the Daily here and full report here) looks at transportation. The term “externality” is not stated but economists will see it between the lines. An interesting finding in the report is that while transportation has been contributing to higher greenhouse gas emissions, regular air pollution from transportation has declined […]

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Regulation, anyone?

This is not good. But doing something about it (i.e. internalizing the externality) is too offensive to corporate Canada – and apparently from the article, corporate everywhere. Call it “smart regulation” or “risk management”, the way our regulatory system is set up means that the bodies have to pile up for the sake of sufficient scientific evidence before we regulate […]

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Reflections on the Stern Review

Monday’s release by the UK government of the Stern Review on The Economics of Climate Change could come to be seen as one of those pivotal events in shaping public policy. I hope so, anyway. This report takes the accumulation of scientific knowledge about the present and potential future impacts of global warming and translates them into the language of […]

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Oil: Can we give it back?

Every now and then you see a sad story on TV about someone who won the lottery, and then their life went to shit (they gave it all away or lost it gambling, became an alcoholic, etc.).  They invariably say at the end, “I wish I’d never won the lottery.” I kind of feel the same way about oil.  I […]

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What if Jack Layton had said that?

Said Prime Minister Harper on the coming Clean Air Act: “This approach will mark a fundamental departure from the approach of the previous government. Canada’s Clean Air Act will allow us to move industry from voluntary compliance to strict regulation. It will replace the current ad-hoc patchwork system with clear, consistent and comprehensive national standards.” Cynicism and all that aside, […]

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Autoworkers and emissions controls

A few posts back, Marc Lee was discussing the Harper government’s sudden discovery of the dangers of global warming.  He mentioned in passing reports that the CAW was opposed to the idea of stronger emissions regulations for vehicles.  In fact the CAW has been in support of the Kyoto process, Canadian efforts to meet its targets, and the principle of […]

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The mother of all externalities

We are still waiting for the Harper government’s proposed “green plan” or “clean air act” despite a big launch in Vancouver the other day. Expectations are being lowered as more details come out. The tough talking rhetoric does not appear to have much substance behind it. According to a CP wire story today based on a draft leaked to environmental […]

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Costs of climate change

File this one under the economic costs of climate change. If you have been to or flown over BC lately you will have noticed the astonishing amount of red (dying) pine trees. The mountian pine beetle is normally killed by cold cold winters, but winters now are not cold enough, and summers are just to their liking. Add to the […]

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Tax shifting: A gimmick with legs

While I admire Green Party leader Elizabeth May as a committed environmentalist, I have a big problem with her pushing “tax shifting”, which goes by the slogans “tax the bad things like pollution not the good things like employment and work” and “getting the market prices right”. This makes for a great political campaign but one that promises more than […]

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