…environmental economics and the implications of environmental policy

“A Focus on the Promise of Trade to Combat Climate Change Rather than the Potential for Conflict”

with 12 comments

When the Trade Ministers meet to talk climate change and trade, there is promise. These are the folks that generally get things done in government. Toby Heaps has a great account of a first, and very important meeting of international finance ministers on climate change and trade in Bali. One nugget from this account is a World Bank assertion that trade barriers could be removed that could improve the flow of “climate friendly goods” between countries by something like 7 to 13%. These are big numbers and underscore an area that needs more attention: the removal of non-price barriers to lower carbon emissions.

Despite the focus on emission pricing, there is also a need to systematically crawl through the way we regulate and control behavior and see what is distorting movement to a low emissions profile. In many cases, removing these barriers opens up a suite of low cost options.

One notable example that recently stuck me as significant are barriers in the cement sector to burning waste fuels and adding supplemental cementing materials (SCM’s are a cement “filler” that is waste fly-ash from burnt coal). In Canada, we regulate the industry’s ability to burn waste materials and add SCM’s, but in Europe things are different. With proper air pollutant controls, the European cement sector has become a waste burning powerhouse, while reducing emissions a tonne (ok many tonnes). Similarly, the industry is allowed to add waste materials to their cement products up to something like 30% while maintaining quality, which lessens total emissions (1/3 from energy and 2/3 process) on a ratio in the order of 1:1.

In Canada, our SCM standard is 1% and we burn about 5% waste fuels nationally. Changing these standards would mean we could reduce energy and process emissions from this GHG-intensive sector by a much larger number at a much lower cost than options such as fuel switching (more Nox) or upgrading the kilns (more cost). And banning the burning of tires in Ontario, but allowing them to be shipped to Michigan and burnt in Cement kilns owned by the same folks in the same airshed is absurd (yes we do this).

It is always puzzling to an economist to see something that makes economic sense but is undersupplied. But when we do, we generally know there is some sort of distortion at play. In Canada, finding and removing these distortions should be a priority for climate policy. So, while Canada’s climate change delegation drags our good name through the volcanic sand in Bali, take comfort. Some smart people are at least thinking about this stuff on our behalf, and when they are trade ministers, we may just be better off.

Written by Dave Sawyer

December 11th, 2007 at 2:23 pm

12 Responses to '“A Focus on the Promise of Trade to Combat Climate Change Rather than the Potential for Conflict”'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to '“A Focus on the Promise of Trade to Combat Climate Change Rather than the Potential for Conflict”'.

  1. .

    tnx for info!!…


    30 Jul 14 at 12:45 am

  2. .

    tnx for info!…


    17 Nov 14 at 7:54 pm

  3. .



    18 Nov 14 at 5:20 am

  4. .



    18 Nov 14 at 11:56 am

  5. .



    23 Nov 14 at 9:23 pm

  6. .

    ñýíêñ çà èíôó!…


    24 Nov 14 at 3:07 am

  7. .



    24 Nov 14 at 5:48 am

  8. .

    ñïñ çà èíôó….


    1 Dec 14 at 2:45 pm

  9. .

    ñïñ çà èíôó!!…


    5 Dec 14 at 5:20 pm

  10. .



    9 Dec 14 at 2:04 pm

  11. .



    15 Dec 14 at 3:05 pm

  12. .

    good info!…


    15 Dec 14 at 3:41 pm

Leave a Reply