The Staple Theory @ 50: Marc Lee

As part of our continuing series of commentaries celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth,” we present the following commentary by Marc Lee, economist with the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.  Marc considers the implications — both economic and environmental — of the current infatuation with export LNG in […]

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Metro Vancouver needs to walk its “zero waste” talk

An oped published in the Vancouver Sun: When delegates attend Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste conference on Wednesday, they will hear from innovators and big thinkers about how to radically redesign waste out of our economy. Ideas will be presented to aggressively reuse, repair and maintain what we consume, and for composting and recycling to keep all materials flowing in a “closed loop.” […]

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Climate justice and the political moment in BC

The following is based on a talk at the Bring Your Boomers election forum on April 3 at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver, the fourth in a series of intergenerational dialogues from Gen Why Media, and was co-sponsored by the CCPA, Get Your Vote On, LeadNow and Vancity credit union. I was asked to set the stage for a conversation on climate justice between three youth and five politicians […]

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Absolving our Carbon Sins: the Case of the Pacific Carbon Trust

Last week’s report from BC’s Auditor General dealt a huge blow to the credibility of carbon offsets and claims that BC had achieved a state of “carbon neutral government.” Coverage of the AG’s report was coloured by accusations from the Pacific Carbon Trust, the Crown corporation created to buy and sell BC offsets, and “experts” from the offset industry that the AG did […]

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Closing the Loop: Zero Waste, GHG Emissions and Green Jobs in BC

Below is the summary for our latest Climate Justice Project report, Closing the Loop: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Creating Green Jobs through Zero Waste in BC (I recommend checking the much prettier full paper, stand-alone summary, and awesome infographic by Sam Bradd on the website). Closing the Loop was a complex and challenging project that made my head spin, but in the end is one […]

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Dutch Disease is Dead … Long Live Dutch Disease!!!

In the hyper-polarized context of Canadian energy policy debates, even suggesting that there might be a downside to the untrammeled energy boom centred in northern Alberta is enough to get you labelled a traitor or an economic illiterate — or both.  Conservative political leaders in both Ottawa and Edmonton, backed by energy-friendly think-tanks and the Sun media chain, have tried […]

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Marc’s Enbridge Testimony

Testimony to the Joint Review Panel on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project By Marc Lee, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives January 16, 2013 My name is Marc Lee, and I have served as an economist for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives for more than 14 years. Most recently I have been Senior Economist and the Co-Director of the Climate […]

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Marc’s Letter from 2040

The following comes from a short talk on a vision for a zero-carbon BC that I gave at a couple events this Fall. Many have asked for the text so I’ve posted it here, and we may try and turn it into a video. That said, I have been reluctant to do so up to now because it was intended […]

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Nexen & Progress Takeovers Approved: What Next?

The federal government’s announcement on Friday that it is approving two more big oilsands takeovers (by China’s CNOOC and Malaysia’s Petronas, both state-owned suitors) was political tap-dancing at its best.  Prime Minister Harper’s speech listed several reasons why takeovers by foreign state-owned firms are a problem … but then proceeded to approve $21 billion worth of them.  Future takeovers by […]

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Oil Prices and the Loonie Again

There’s a refreshingly pragmatic and detailed piece in today’s National Post by Peter Spiro questioning the assumed correlation between oil prices and the loonie.  It builds nicely on previous discussion of the “oil price-loonie transmission mechanism” that has occurred here and here. Among other salient points, Mr. Spiro points out that: Canadian petroleum exports have grown, but not that dramatically […]

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Investing in the Green & White – Why Not in Green Power?

At yesterday’s Saskatchewan Roughrider game, Premier Wall announced provincial funding for a new stadium: an $80-million grant and a $100-million loan to be repaid over time through a surcharge on tickets. While it’s unclear why a stadium should be anywhere near the top of the priority list, a readiness to invest in public infrastructure is positive. The province could generate […]

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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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Energy McCarthyism

The high-and-mighty virtiol which greeted Tom Mulcair’s comments last week about the downside of oil-powered currency appreciation is lamentable (repeating the over-the-top reaction to Dalton McGuinty’s similar comments a few weeks ago).  Mulcair made two modest and empirically substantiated statements: the loonie is sky-high as a result of the oil boom in Alberta’s bitumen sands (I doubt you’d find a […]

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Canada’s Oil: For Sale to the Highest Bidder

Want to know why Canada’s currency is sky-high despite our sluggish recovery, our large and persistent current account deficit, and our lousy export performance? Check out this fascinating story in Friday’s National Post, by Yadullah Hussain, on why Canada’s oil reserves are such a uniquely hot commodity in the eyes of global oil corporations. The story explains how private petroleum […]

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The Oil Price-Loonie Transmission Mechanism

The most interesting comments from Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney last week, in releasing the Bank’s semi-annual Monetary Policy Report, dealt with the relationship between the price of oil and the Canadian currency.  The Globe and Mail reported Carney as publicly questioning why currency traders automatically presume such a direct link between the loonie and the world oil price.  […]

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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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Canada – The Petrotyranny

The revelations over how the federal Tories used a robo-calling firm (or firms) to contact voters in possibly 30 or more ridings during last year’s election – misleading them about where polling stations were located – is just another example of the Harper government’s undemocratic tactics. This is on top of their new on-line surveillance bill that would allow police […]

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Canada’s Petro-Recovery

Statsitics Canada released the third quarter GDP numbers today, and on the surface they seem pretty upbeat, considering all the doom and gloom lately.  Headline real GDP grew at an annualized 3.5% rate.  I predicted a few weeks back that there was no chance that the 3Q number would be negative (thus sparing us a “technical recession,” on the tails […]

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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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Home energy retrofit (part 2)

This summer I put our household through an energy efficiency retrofit. I was working on a research paper on energy efficiency, and then both the BC and federal governments announced new funding for their retrofit programs, so I engaged in some direct action research, staring with an energy audit of our home (more in part one). Over the summer I […]

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Are smart meters worth the cost?

A notice in my mailbox last week told me that smart meters are going to be installed in my neighbourhood. I’ll admit that the geek in me would like to see real-time information about my energy usage, but as an economist I’m interested in costs and benefits of the program. So far we have seen lots of bold claims in […]

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Fighting energy poverty and the transition to zero-emission housing

Today CCPA released a new Climate Justice Project report, Fighting Energy Poverty in the Transition to Zero-Emission Housing: A Framework for BC, by yours truly, Eugene Kung (a lawyer with the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre and a steering committee member of the CJP) and Jason Owen (who worked on this project as a student at UBC, now with the City of Surrey). The full report as […]

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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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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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