…environmental economics and the implications of environmental policy

Archive for the ‘cliamte polciy’ tag

“it would be better to be at 95%” than to have done nothing….

with 15 comments

Like him or not, former Prime Minister Chrétien was a competent manager, and he is right on the current state of climate policy in Canada (see here):

“I signed Kyoto and I knew it was going to be tough to meet the goals of 2012. When I left, we were close to having a deal with the oil industry, but it was not implemented,” he said at a gathering of Liberal heavyweights in Toronto.
Mr. Chretien’s government agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 6% below 1990 levels by 2012. By 2004, however, emissions had risen 27% over the 1990 level.
Mr. Chretien acknowledged the gap, but said “it would be better to be at 95%” than to have done nothing.

With a wholesale scrapping of the previous governments attempts (albeit weak) to move forward, Canada ended up further behind. As emissions grew primarily from oil sands and will continue to grow (see thumb below), this delay has been and will be costly. The post below discusses why delay has risks, but in a nutshell, emissions are higher, high emitting technology becomes locked-in, future reductions become more costly, and technology, innovation and learning by doing aren’t incented to lower costs in time.

A simple carbon tax phased-in a number of years ago would have gone virtually unnoticed from an economic perspective, but of course was DOA politically. And now, looking out to the future we will have carbon constants, and these constraints will be more costly because of political delay. While political blustering seems to be the centre piece of Canada’s climate policy, sometimes I long for a good old fashioned manager who gets things done….even at half measures.


Written by Dave Sawyer

December 12th, 2007 at 3:33 pm