Behind the Numbers

Entries Tagged as 'Environment'

The case against a revenue-neutral carbon tax

January 16th, 2015 · · Energy Policy, Environment, Taxes and Tax Cuts

I’m a fan of carbon taxes, but increasingly I see the term “revenue-neutral” attached to it. Where I live, in BC, we have perhaps the most prominent example of a revenue-neutral carbon tax, and carbon tax advocates have come to promoting the BC model to other jurisdictions, such as Ontario, who are contemplating their own carbon tax. This includes the new EcoFiscal Commission, which endorses a naive view of markets – the magic of free markets is alive and well, and if only we could put a price on carbon to change marketplace incentives, all will be well.

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Now is exactly the right time to regulate oil and gas

January 16th, 2015 · · Energy Policy, Environment

Late last year, Prime Minister Harper declared that, given plummeting oil prices, now would be a “crazy” time to introduce regulations on the oil and gas sector.

This comes after promising nine years ago that the federal government would bring in new GHG regulations on the oil and gas sector (but failing to do so), and after committing at the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009 that Canada would reduce its GHG emissions by 17% by 2020, a target that Environment Canada now says the government has no plan to meet.

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IPCC doom, gloom and an LED light at the end of the tunnel

November 17th, 2014 · · Energy Policy, Environment

The latest from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a super-synthesis of the state of agreed knowledge about climate change, adaptation and mitigation. Imagine thousands of research papers summarized in three major volumes (released over the past year), with this new report the grand summary of that. And even that condensed into a 40-page summary for policymakers.

Now I will humbly boil that down to a few key observations: climate change is happening and costs are piling up; it’s caused by human activity, primarily the combustion of coal, oil and gas; staying on our current pathway risks ever-greater danger of irreversible adverse impacts around the world; and, perhaps most importantly, we still have time for a soft landing if we act quickly.

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Climate Change: The Great Educational Challenge

September 23rd, 2014 · · Education, Environment, Nova Scotia

This blog is the third in CCPA-NS’ series called “Progressive Voices on Public Education in Nova Scotia.”

 

The People’s Climate March showed an incredible level of solidarity across our planet and was a visible way to capture the news cycle and send a message to world leaders to act. But, climate change itself is not news. For those of us who are latecomers to the scene, Al Gore’s 2006 award-winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” should have alerted us. If that didn’t do it, surely the Fourth Report (2007) and the Fifth Report (2013) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would have. We can no longer hide from the extremely unpleasant fact that climate change is the most serious crisis humankind has ever faced. We must take action commensurate to the weight of this remarkable challenge.

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Ukraine and the Arctic Council

March 23rd, 2014 · · Environment

When the Arctic Council meets this week in Yellowknife, participants will no doubt be thinking of the Ukraine. But they probably won’t be talking about it, at least during the official sessions.

Ukraine will be on their minds because Russia, which accounts for half of the Arctic region, is one of the eight nations making up the council, along with representatives of six Indigenous Peoples’ organizations.

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The Long Walk

December 7th, 2013 · · Environment, Human Rights, Youth

Images of three separate but interconnected events are in my mind tonight.

The first is the outcome of another negotiating session of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw two weeks ago. The second is a sunny fall afternoon in 1998 when South African President, Nelson Mandela, spoke at Ottawa’s Human Rights Monument. The third is a classroom of seven year-olds in a small medieval town called Montluçon, in the Auvergne region of France.

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Global carbon budget is a harsh reality check for Canadian investors

October 30th, 2013 · · Environment, Pensions

The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should be a wake-up call for Canada. With a development model based on ever more fossil fuel extraction, Canada’s economy and financial markets are on a collision course with the urgent need for global climate action.

The IPCC, for the first time, stated an upper limit on total greenhouse gas emissions – a global “carbon budget” to keep temperature increase below 2°C. This is considered to be the threshold for “dangerous” climate change, and also the target for international climate negotiations.

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Corporate social responsibility: “doing good” or just doing better?

October 30th, 2013 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Environment

This past summer, two major events raising the issue of corporate social responsibility occurred in Québec. First, the Lac-Mégantic tragedy highlighted the dangerous strategies put in place by railway companies to save money. Then, illegally stored PCB was found in Pointe-Claire, in the West Island of Montréal, after which discovery the offending firm kept silent for many days regarding its hidden activities.

By an odd coincidence, this summer also saw weekly magazines Maclean’s and L’Actualité publish a special feature on Canada’s most socially responsible companies. It included a short description of all the companies listed in a Sustainalytics top 50, highlighting the criteria which made it stand out. At least neither of the firms involved in the above events are listed, but a number of choices remain questionable.

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LNG: BC’s Quest for a New Staple Industry

October 21st, 2013 · · British Columbia, Environment

I have a post as part of a new series from the Progressive Economics Forum celebrating 50 years of Mel Watkins’ publication of “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth.” Watkins’ piece follows the insight of Harold Innis to develop an understanding of economic growth uniquely rooted in the Canadian experience. The series begins with an intro by Jim Stanford here. The CCPA will be publishing a volume with all of the commentaries at some point.

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Why the City of Vancouver should divest from fossil fuels

October 9th, 2013 · · British Columbia, Environment, Pensions

This is the text of remarks I made today to Vancouver city council on divestment. Earlier this year, Council requested that staff report back on how the city’s financial investments align with the city’s mission and values, and various ethical programs like the city’s purchasing policy and the greenest city initiative. So the meeting was essentially about the contents of the staff report.

The outcome of the meeting was a small victory for divestment. Council recommended:

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