Songs of the Doomed

There is a lot of talk on this blog and elsewhere about how best to get the economy going again, but it seems that the environment is missing in action from the debate. At best, climate change is a concern mentioned in passing, only to move on to the real action of boosting GDP growth rates and employment (will corporate […]

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Memo to the new Environment Minister

With a government as centrally controlled as our federal government, one has to wonder why the media make such a fuss covering cabinet shuffles. Peter Kent may be the new Environment Minister, but the message box is still from the Prime Minister’s Office. So it was not much surprise to  see our new Environment Minister touting the same old lines […]

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Memo to Energy Minister

Memo to Alberta Energy Minister Ron Liepert: Royalties are not taxes Already “under attack for allegedly being rude and dismissive when he was health minister,”[1] current Energy Minister Ron Liepert conceded he hadn’t read the Parkland Institute’s new report on vast oilpatch profits but that didn’t stop him from dismissing it: “This is a not unexpected sort of NDP/socialist view […]

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New report, old excuses

The Parkland Institute released its latest report yesterday morning, detailing the huge scale of oilpatch profits – Misplaced Generosity: Extraordinary profits in Alberta’s oil and gas industry. Many of the responses from government and industry were predictable – that’s why they were addressed in the report. Let’s run through the standard excuses offered for the string of royalty cuts Albertans […]

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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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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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GDP: Cold Weather and Hot Real Estate

In October, Canada’s inflation-adjusted Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanded by 0.16%, which rounds up to 0.2%. While a second consecutive month of growth is unambiguously good news, we should be concerned about the amount and type of growth. Amount of Growth Real GDP (in chained 2002 dollars) dropped from a peak of $1,241 billion in July 2008 to a trough […]

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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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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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Saskatchewan’s Electricity Future

Back in my home province, a legislative committee has begun a public inquiry on meeting future electricity demand. Written submissions and video of oral presentations are available online. Saskatchewan’s traditional reliance on coal-fired electricity is challenged by concerns about climate change and the prospect of federal charges for carbon emissions. The debate has recently been polarized between proponents of nuclear […]

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It’s a small world after all

As someone deeply focused on climate change and the vast potential for bad things to happen in the future, the idea of peak oil strikes me a blessing. For the most part I have paid little attention to the nuances of peak oil arguments on the grounds that there is still so much of the black stuff in the ground […]

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Energy efficiency: What’s lean? What’s mean?

I’ve been thinking a lot about energy efficiency in buildings lately (in the BC context, anyway). About 11% of BC’s greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to residential and commercial buildings, so obviously efficiency has to come under the microscope as part of any GHG mitigation plan. Part of my reticence to look at this topic before is that there are […]

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Speculation and Commodity Prices

Michael  Masters’ recent testimony before the US Congress is being widely cited in support of the proposition  that speculation is having a big impact on upward and downward movements in commodity prices. As a long-standing futures market insider, he argues  quite persuasively that institutional investors such as hedge funds have entered commodities futures markets in a huge way – a […]

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The OECD and the Tar Sands

The 2008 OECD Survey of Canada incorporates a long and surprisingly critical overview of developments in the energy sector, with a major focus on the tar sands. (Chapter 4). It is, in many respects, far closer to the views of the Pembina Institute and the Parkland Institute in Alberta than to those of the Alberta and federal governments, and even […]

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The Carbon Tax We Pay To The Oil Companies

Marc Lee’s most excellent paper to the PEF session on carbon pricing at the CEA meetings in Vancouver got me thinking.  (That whole session was awesome, by the way — including Lars Osberg’s provocative analysis that the vast majority of Canadians, whose real consumption has not grown in recent years, have already met their personal Kyoto targets.  It’s only the […]

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Bio-energy makes its move

When we think about renewable energy most of us imagine solar panels and wind mills. Few of us think about trees and crops. But these latter items are getting mainstreamed as new sources of energy – burning them for electricity generation and converting them into liquid fuels  – with no small amount of controversy attached. The premise of bioenergy in […]

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Structural Regression, the Energy Boom, and Deindustrialization

I want to encourage folks to look through the CAW’s detailed submission to the federal government’s panel on competition policy (headed by Red Wilson).  Here is the link: http://www.caw.ca/whoweare/CAWpoliciesandstatements/pdfs/CompetitionInvestmentPanel.pdf I think it’s a major statement about the structural transformation occurring in Canada’s economy as a result of the global commodity boom.  Basic summary: high global commodity prices have boosted the […]

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An Update on Canada’s Two Economies

What follows is a revised and extended version of the comments I made at a panel on the Canadian economy organized by the Bank of Canada and the IMF at the recent Canadian Economics Association meetings. An Update on Canada’s Two Economies – Implications for Workers and for Monetary Policy Andrew Jackson Chief Economist Canadian Labour Congress The Hidden Jobs […]

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