Modeling BC’s emissions reductions
Yesterday, the BC government released its updated Climate Action Plan. A glossy affair, it nonetheless puts text to all of the myriad actions the BC government is taking on climate. Looking at it all, it is hard to say they are just “greenwashing”, though personally I would like to see even more aggressive action now. But as the government, they are also treading the politics carefully.
One notable addition from this updated Plan is Appendix I, way back on page 103, which has a report from Mark Jaccard et al about their modeling which finds that the government has already identified 73% of its emissions reductions for 2020, with more to come when the advisory Climate Action Team reports at the end of July. We have been waiting for this modeling for some time, and yet seeing it is underwhelming because the CIMS model is such a black box.
This is a major downside to climate policy analysis in Canada — Jaccard is the only source of modeling impacts in BC and nationally. Overall, the black box, proprietary approach means verification of the numbers is virtually impossible. Still, it makes for an interesting read.
[UPDATE, July 18: Mark Jaccard says that the CIMS model is not actually proprietary; somewhere along the line that term got slipped into a publication by mistake; and he is willing to share it for free]
A few oddities, however. The report has some energy price numbers that are way lower that current prices, which may mean it is understating impacts. But the fact that prices are up so much and we are only just seeing changes at the margins suggests that his estimates of impacts from a few years ago may have been overly optimistic (ie today’s gas prices are the equivalent of a carbon tax of $300 a tonne applied three years ago).
Also, the estimates of the price of carbon under a cap-and-trade system is too low ($25 a tonne) for the 2011-2015 period (the carbon tax should be a floor price to the cap-and-trade system) but notably ramps up in subsequent years.
Because of uncertainties, we should be pressing for a mix of policies that more than exceeds the target for 2020, just in case some policies do not have the desired effect on emissions reductions.