The economic cost of carbon policy

The chair of Alberta’s climate change advisory panel on what he wishes its final report had said about the economic impact of carbon pricing

Premier Rachel Notley, right, and Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips after unveiling Alberta's climate strategy in Edmonton, Alberta, on Sunday, November 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

Premier Rachel Notley, right, and Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips after unveiling Alberta’s climate strategy in Edmonton, Alberta, on Sunday, November 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

A year ago this week, I began work on Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips’ Climate Leadership Panel. Our process ended on Sunday, November 22, 2015 when Premier Notley released our report and announced that the province would be following many of our recommendations.

Our process had been quite unique in that, over the course of five months or so preceding the announcement, we’d been in regular contact with government officials, both on the political side and in the public service, so our final report was really more of a report to Albertans than to the government.  Our recommendations had been presented to cabinet and to senior officials over the weeks and months prior to the announcement, as we sought to refine our recommendations based on input and questions from stakeholders and government officials.  We’d run a months-long process to bring together the best analysis we could from both inside and outside government, to analyze it, process it, and to bring forward the best ideas for Alberta. The report was intended to explain it all to Albertans—we hoped it would bring them inside our minds, inside the analysis and into the process we’d been through. While we knew that many would not agree with the recommendations, we hoped that they’d see the answers to their questions in our report. On the Saturday afternoon before the announcement, with all of the documents out of our hands, I headed off for a run and I felt for the first time a feeling I’ve felt almost every day since: a nagging feeling that we’d missed something, that we could have done something differently, could have explained it better, or could have provided more evidence.

Of all the times where I’ve second-guessed the final edits on our report, this past week was one of the worst. Waiting for the shoe to drop on Chris Varcoe’s article in the Calgary Herald on a leaked memo on carbon pricing (I spoke to him Wednesday morning), I’ve run over in my mind all the analysis we did and all the things that I wish we’d included in the report, some of which were never in it, and some which ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor. I feel very confident in the analysis we did and in the evidence supporting our policy recommendations, but over the past seven months since the announcement, I’ve seen a few places where we didn’t include enough to explain to Albertans what many economists take for granted about greenhouse gas policy in general and carbon prices in particular, and a more than a few places where we could have added more to the report, including more discussion with respect to the potential economic impacts and the tradeoffs involved in our proposed policies.

Hopefully I can set a few of those things straight here.

First, I think we need to start with the core of our recommendations—a price on carbon. Why do economists like carbon pricing? Economists from Mankiw to Krugman and from Mintz to Stanford generally like the concept of a price on carbon because it is known (and has been since Pigou in the 1920s) to reduce emissions at the lowest economic cost to society. Governments can do (and have done) a lot with regulations, but they can’t customize regulations to the particular circumstances of individuals and firms without incurring significant costs and inefficiencies, and even if they could, regulations are well-known to generate fewer incentives to innovate than an equivalent price. Simply put, the reason our policy recommendations included a broader and better carbon pricing system for Alberta was to minimize the economic cost of action. If you want to read more on this, start with this report (PDF) from Canada’s EcoFiscal Commission.

However, there are many issues with how carbon pricing is presented as a policy tool. Most importantly, people need to understand that carbon pricing in and of itself is not a magic bullet. Below are some of the reasons why.

First, stringency matters: there’s no reason to expect that a carbon price will do more than a stringent set of regulations—economics simply tells us that in most cases, a carbon price applied broadly could likely accomplish the same outcome at a lower total cost to the economy than would be possible through a suite of regulations.  As Simon Fraser’s Mark Jaccard has pointed out extensively of late, many of our most effective policies have been regulations, but this is because our governments have been willing to impose stringent policies in the form of regulations, not because regulations are inherently more or less effective. Some have argued that the plan we proposed for Alberta doesn’t accomplish enough while arguing in the same breath that it’s too stringent. Economics tells us that, if you want to accomplish more, you can either increase the price or impose more stringent and likely more costly regulations. It also tells us that either option will require individuals and firms to take more costly actions to reduce emissions. After all, while Friedman made the quote famous, economists have known since well before Adam Smith that there is no free lunch.

Second, interaction with other policies and constraints matters.  Since Lipsey and Lancaster in the 1950s, economists have also known that the presence of other market imperfections can mean that the textbook optimal solution to a problem (in this case, a pure carbon price) might no longer be optimal if it exacerbates other problems—this is known as theory of the second best. Here, Alberta’s electricity market provides a perfect example—our market places zero value on long-term reliability, even though we know that reliability is a valuable thing to electricity consumers. Advocates of textbook solutions can argue that we should price carbon and let the market sort it out rather than relying on complementary regulations. However, if that carbon price leads too many generating asset owners to implement early shut downs, and the market has no means to send a signal of the value of reliable supply, problems may ensue, the costs of which vastly exceed the gains of pricing versus regulation.

Third, there are distributive impacts of policies which a textbook analysis of the first best can often ignore. On their own, carbon prices can be regressive, although they need not be as Nic Rivers, Randy Wigle, and others have shown. Of course, regulations have regressive redistributive impacts as well—they impose costs on firms which will be passed through supply chains and affect consumers. The potential regressive nature of emissions reduction policies is why first B.C. and now Alberta have opted for rebates to shield lower-income consumers from the reduced purchasing power which would otherwise disproportionately affect them under a carbon price. That consumers will still respond to higher relative prices for carbon-intensive goods (substitution effects) while not being made poorer overall (income effects) is also taken as given by most economists, but evidently not something we did a sufficient job explaining in our report. More on this is a subject for another day.

Fourth, and related to each of the points above, political constraints matter.  Jesse Jenkins has done some great work on this topic, and as economists we ignore these issues at our peril.  Just as we’ve studied coalition formation for international climate change agreements, policy formation at national and subnational levels must be one of consensus building to some degree.  The range of stakeholders who have supported the policy proposed by the government on November 22nd is a product just that type of process—a process which involves some give and take, and will not necessarily lead to the lowest cost theoretical policy, but can deliver the lowest-cost, achievable policy. But, we’ve also seen many examples of policy proposals for which proponents were not able to build a strong, political consensus. Those proposals remain proposals.

Next, at the risk of validating a straw man, we know that pricing carbon in Alberta isn’t going to solve climate change. We know that climate change is a global collective action problem—when we burn fossil fuels, we impose costs (quantified as the social costs of carbon) on others—a burden for which we do not have to pay compensation. This is what economists know as an externality, and it leads to a less efficient overall outcome than you’d have with perfect markets. The Alberta economy, with some of the highest emissions per capita in the world, has benefited significantly from the fact that current and future generations of global citizens can’t easily send us a bill (or sue us costlessly for damages, if you prefer a Coasian view of the world).  Economic activity in Alberta emits, on average, 62 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per person per year, which implies a cost imposed on others of $,2800 to $4,500 annually per Albertan using the U.S. government’s central estimates of the social costs of carbon emissions, converted to Canadian dollars.  And, before you point out that action in Alberta won’t matter if China and India don’t act as well, allow me to point out that the social costs of carbon emissions today increase if you assume inaction on the part of other nations. In other words, if you’re going to argue that no one else is going to act on this problem, you’re arguing that the damages we impose on others through our actions are higher than the numbers I’ve listed above.

Finally, and most related to this week’s news, while correcting an externality leads to more globally efficient economic choices, it doesn’t mean that those who benefit from being able to pass these costs on to others will be made better off by having to pay for these costs. If government policy is going to reduce the ability of economic actors to impose costs on others, there will be impacts on those who would otherwise benefit from doing so. Those impacts will be larger in provinces with more emissions-intensive economies—a list on which Alberta sits near the top. So while we as economists know that carbon pricing is, under most circumstances, the policy with the least economic costs of emissions reductions, that doesn’t mean it comes without potential economic costs. However, economic costs must be judged compared to something. If you compare real-world policies against unrealistic alternatives, they are always going to perform poorly.

Which brings me to where we are this week, and to Chris Varcoe’s write-up in the Calgary Herald on the basis of a leaked memo based on preliminary analysis of the climate leadership plan. The economic impact numbers—projections of 1 to 1.5 per cent lower GDP by 2022, a drop in oil exports, and employment 15,000 below what would otherwise occur—and the fact that the numbers weren’t released sooner have ruffled feathers on all sides of the spectrum. With all of the above in mind, I’ve given a lot of thought over the last few days to what we might have included in our report to better address the economic costs of climate change policy in Alberta. Hindsight is, of course, 20:20, but we could have written something like this:

Alberta’s economy runs on resources and the production, processing, and combustion of those resources generates greenhouse gas emissions. Our emissions do not simply come from our large industries—almost everything else we do has greenhouse gas emissions impacts, whether it’s driving our cars and trucks, heating our homes, or purchasing goods delivered here by plane, truck or train. Reducing emissions in Alberta will not be easy—we don’t have a magic wand, and if cost-effective, lower-emissions substitutes were available in all cases today, we wouldn’t be facing this problem. But, not reducing emissions in Alberta is also potentially very costly. We’ve already seen policies and actions aimed at our resource sector whether through the rejection of pipelines, the application of low carbon fuel standards, or challenges to companies investing here from their shareholders or from sustainable investors. If Alberta chooses not to act, those costs won’t go away. And, we’re part of a federation, and our federation has committed to an ambitious target to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions. There will be costs if Alberta is not a constructive partner in those efforts—continued market access challenges or unfavourable policy design. Those costs may be difficult to quantify, but that doesn’t mean they’re not real. Finally, of course, we know that emissions impose costs on others around the world—if we use the most recent estimates, we are each imposing on average $2,800 to $4,500 worth of costs on current and future global citizens every year with our emissions, and many of these impacts affect some of the poorest countries on earth.

The policy package we are proposing to reduce emissions has the potential to impose some costs on the Alberta economy—there will likely be a real and measurable impact on GDP relative to a business as usual outcome, if we assume that Alberta would face no material economic costs from inaction on climate change. Based on internal and external economic modeling results, this impact will likely be on the order of 0.25 to 0.5 per cent cumulatively by 2022. In other words, the impact of the actions we propose could amount to approximately one day’s lost economic output in 2022.  The impacts will depend on the decisions the government makes with respect to the use of revenues beyond those which we’ve suggested be used for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs—the more cost-effectively these revenues are used, the more modest the economic impacts will be.

There are some impacts we were not able to quantify. While we were able access both private-sector and government economic models, we were not able to complete analysis of the impacts of reduced air pollution from our proposed policies on labour productivity and health care expenditures. Based on the latest economic evidence, we expect these impacts to be significant and positive and thus they would offset some of the negative impacts on GDP. We also have, as mentioned earlier in the report, limited quantitative evidence on the effects on emissions-intensive small and medium sized business.  Unlike large emitters, these SMEs do not report their emissions annually, and so our ability to estimate effects is much more limited. We have, through the application of output-based allocations in large industrial sectors, sought to reduce the competitiveness implications for our emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries far beyond what would be the case with a BC-style revenue neutral carbon tax. However, these measures will not be perfect and some industries and firms—those with high emissions and low value-added per unit emissions in particular—will suffer disproportionate effects, as will some individuals with particularly high emissions lifestyles. Based on modelling presented to us, and given the emissions-intensive nature of Alberta’s economy, there will likely be reductions in output, exports, and potentially some impact on total employment, relative to a classic business-as-usual case.

However, it is our view that the business-as-usual case that a modeller might use to assess the costs of these actions does not exist for Alberta. We see today increasing pressure on firms to mitigate carbon risk, increasing pressure on governments to achieve their Paris commitments, and increasing focus on Alberta as a symbol of inaction on climate change. We do not see how a comparison to a case where Alberta can continue to find viable markets for its products and see investment return to the oil sands in the absence of credible action on greenhouse gases exists. What would likely exist as an alternative is a world where Alberta faces increasingly discriminatory and punitive policies and barriers to trade both from within and from outside Canada, and where firms face mounting shareholder and institutional investor pressure not to invest in Alberta. The costs of these are speculative, and more difficult to quantify, but we are confident that they far and away exceed the cumulative costs of the actions we’ve recommend. Simply put, if you assume there is no value in reducing emissions, you’ll find that there’s no value in reducing emissions. We believe that our policy recommendations will be of net benefit to Alberta, yes in terms of the avoided costs of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, but also in terms of the avoided costs of discriminatory and punitive policies imposed upon Alberta,

Our policy package relies on economic evidence tailored to the specific, current circumstances of Alberta’s economy and proposes what we believe is a package which allows Alberta to go from defence to offence with respect to climate change policies, and do this in the economically smartest manner given the nature of the Alberta economy. It is our hope that this will allow Alberta to prevent discriminatory policies applied against our resources, to compete effectively for global market share, and to be a constructive partner as our federation moves to address climate change and to reduce the costs which our actions impose on others. Of course, we also expect that it will reduce Alberta’s emissions in a way consistent with the goals of the government and with the lowest aggregate cost to our economy.

Of course, writing reports is much easier in hindsight.


The economic cost of carbon policy

  1. You left out the single biggest problem with your analysis, Mr. Leach. The biggest single problem with analysis and implementation of governmental economic policies is that they are done in a complete vacuum.
    Would you have recommended the implementation of the policy based upon your analysis had their been a conditional clause that you would face dismissal and economic ruin should the analysis and policy prove to be flawed?
    Every day, somebody in the private sector takes the leap of faith in their own analyses of a market and steps into the void of self-employment, or doubles down on their commitment to an employer and their customers based upon the notion that they know what failure really means. A flawed analysis of the marketplace, or a failure to deliver the promised financial results can mean devastation.
    No such reality exists within the policy making framework of government, and for those who do exactly what you did. YOU PEOPLE live in an ivory tower environment where no one loses their job, and their house, and their credit all because you got it wrong. You can take a flamethrower to the fields of revenue for not just the government, but for millions of Albertans, and when you get it spectacularly wrong, none of YOU PEOPLE pay the price. The government just trots off to the financiers and borrows more money to keep you and your ilk on the payroll, including annual COLA’s and a platinum plated pension, knowing full well that the governing body is prepared to tax the citizenry into oblivion (see: Venezuela. See also: Ontario, California, Detroit, et al) to pay for it all.
    It’s not good enough to say that you wish you had done more. Tell it to the first ten or fifteen thousand people who will be devastated by the implementation of a policy that anyone with a tenth grade education could have told you would have carried deep social costs. Tell it to the family of the guy who’s just keeled over from a heart attack because the morally and ethically specious carbon tax has just wiped out a business that was on the cusp of true financial success. Tell it to the children of the welder whose family has just been torn apart by the financial devastation of a social policy implemented with no regards to the deep and ugly social costs of socialism. And to be perfectly clear, a carbon tax is a social policy deeply rooted in socialism. The idea of a carbon tax has always been rooted in the anti-industrial zealotry of socialism.
    It is a blatant untruth to say that we do not already have carbon taxes. What, if not a tax on carbon, would you call the multiple taxes we pay on motor fuels, or the royalties that are paid to governments for access to oil, natural gas, and coal deposits?
    The addition of another layer of taxation upon that is problematic. First, it gives the government another source of revenue to exploit. That creates two additional problems. The first being that the revenue will not match expectations (soo-prise, soo-prise Dr. Leach!), but the government will have already committed to expenditures based upon the higher amount. The other is that the inelasticity of private sector incomes will require that the tax-paying segment of society will be required to cut back on other forms of spending. savings will be eroded, debt buydown will decelerate, and discretionary spending will be reduced. This erosion of the quality of life for those who toil in the private sector will, again, not be expected to be matched by the public sector. COLA’s and pensions will be adjusted. Once again, the tax-paying segment of society will see the socialist credo of “poverty for thee, but not for me” in action.
    All of this will be done because some are desperate to do battle with a foe that has killed no mother’s child. yes, we know that it appears the climate is warming. So the h–l what? Let’s move on. All the carbon taxes in the world aren’t going to do anything about it. If the eradication of fossil fuel use is really a social goal you believe to be worthy, then sell your car and your house, cut up your air miles card, grab a back pack, axe, and canoe and paddle down the Bow to into the hinterlands of northern Manitoba and party like it’s 1642.
    If you actually believed in the snake oil you sold the government you would have placed a line at the bottom that said simply this:
    We should move to make a carbon tax strictly neutral by reducing personal income taxes in a fashion that matches the expected income from a carbon tax, with the goal of eliminating personal income taxes, with no allowable expenditures by government unless revenues increase due to the changes in taxation.
    That, my friend would have been a small step towards putting your money where your tax-funded mouth is.

    • Great comment Mr. Greenwood! Refreshing to hear some intelligence on the subject of GW. I’m tired of hearing how a 2 degree rise will kill us all. And by the way, wasn’t NY supposed to be under water by now according to some of their calculations? None of the IPCC climate model predictions have been correct. And yet we’re willing to maim our industry to slay the mythical beast, but nobody else is.

  2. where is the evidence that a carbon tax has reduced ghg emissions anywhere near what is required to address #climate? Not in BC. Not in Europe. Not in Auz.

    Germany is reducing its emissions mainly by implementing technology directly. And with reverse taxing.. ie feedback tariffs. All real examples of policy which has had substantial impact on levels of emissions have been mostly direct policies. Here in BC, and coal in US and China etc..

  3. Well written.

    Main point of this is often overlooked in all the rhetoric, namely: the cost of doing nothing about AGW. As time moves on, Alberta, if it does nothing, will see ever greater punitive actions against it – tariffs, refusal of permission for pipelines, etc. Health costs will increase due to pulmonary conditions aggravated by AGW.

    There are real costs to doing nothing. Protesters of the carbon tax – please remember that. Please remember that AB is Canada’s worst emitter.


    Also, it’s worth remembering that AB’s climate plan is not intended to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. Nor is it intended to reduce AB’s emissions, at this time. It is intended to reduce AB’s growth in emissions – big difference. AB’e emissions will continue to grow, but more slowly.

    The Carbon tax will reduce growth in emissions.

    • Nonsense. Canada’s emissions on a global scale are a rounding error compared to China, India and the US. None of those countries have a carbon tax and none of them will in the foreseeable future. To say that Alberta needs to damage it’s economy to avoid punitive actions from other countries is ridiculous.

      • Several links don’t seem to be allowed. So please Google, for:

        Evidence on China, which will have a national cap-and-trade programme by 2017:

        Carbon tax Center what about China

        Evidence on India, which has much higher than expected carbon tax:

        India’s carbon tax already much above global expectations

        Evidence on the US, which hasn’t yet a national Carbon Tax, but 6 of its states do:

        Carbon Tax Center – States

        Evidence on other countries:

        Carbon Tax Center – Where Carbon is taxed

        Do you still say, “…compared to China, India and the US. None of those countries have a carbon tax and none of them will in the foreseeable future.”?

  4. Death of fossil fuel? Western economies consistently consume 25 barrels per person per year. Emerging economies consume approximately 3 barrels per person per year. Even assuming the emerging economies reach a South Korean standard of living/energy consumption that would equate to 12 barrels per person per year – and approximately a doubling of demand to 180M BOPD. No superimpose on top of that nascent demand overhang, 6% global aggregate oil production decline rates, a 60% drop in CAPEX spending in the last 18 months and a full cycle break-even for the incremental barrel of production of over $70 and you have the conditions setting up for a very supplied constrained oil market in the next 24 months = much higher real prices. FYI – demand had not dropped in the slightest during the last 24 months and in fact has risen over 1M BOPD and growing.

  5. Global warming is primarily being used as an arbitrary wealth redistribution tool: Consider that there has not been any global warming for almost two decades and that the UN’s assertion that the world will burn up if temperatures rise by two degrees celsius above pre-industrialization levels is not based on any science whatsoever—it’s a figure picked out of thin air by Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the Pope’s special science advisor: ” “Two degrees is not a magical limit — it’s clearly a political goal,” says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber…Schellnhuber ought to know. He is the father of the two-degree target. “Yes, I plead guilty,” he says, smiling” ” The UN’s IPCC, via Ottmar Edenhofer, IPCC leader in November 2010, admitted that climate policy is about redistributing wealth: “One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.”. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, has openly admitted that the UN is “setting…the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution”— in other words, bring down capitalism, impose communist-style, unelected, unaccountable global governance, and put an end to national sovereignty and personal freedoms. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, says it best – we have to set ourselves the “..the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution”— ie the oil stays in the ground even if it means the economy grinds to a halt – we will feel the pain during the move to the zero carbon economy – EV, solar and wind are the wave of the zero carbon future. Oil will kill us all.”

  6. Warming theories/models are not backed by the empirical evidence: The UN’s climate predictions have all failed to match real-world empirical evidence. Climate change mathematical models cannot even successfully predict past temperatures with all the data at their disposal, forward projections have also proven laughably inaccurate. If you cannot successfully backtest your model is flawed. Despite what the climate change lobby want us to believe science is not a consensus – science is hypothesis, experiment, observation & conclusion. A single scientist overturned the consensus that the sun revolved around the earth – this conclusion that was deemed heretical by the heliocentric consensus which is strangely how the warming theorists react to any criticism of their theories.

  7. Media Coverage is not Proof of Global Warming AKA Confirmation Bias: Confirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. Biased search, interpretation and memory have been invoked to explain attitude polarization (when a disagreement becomes more extreme even though the different parties are exposed to the same evidence), belief perseverance (when beliefs persist after the evidence for them is shown to be false), the irrational primacy effect (a greater reliance on information encountered early in a series) and illusory correlation (when people falsely perceive an association between two events or situations).

  8. Oil and gas companies are not subsidised: The researchers who produce studies about oil and gas “subsidies” define accelerated capital cost allowance as a subsidy, even though it merely allows companies to write down expenses sooner (which means they can’t be written down in future years, meaning it is a net wash as far as government revenue is concerned), and despite the fact that manufacturers and technology companies use precisely the same accelerated capital cost allowance schedules. Funny it isn’t considered a subsidy for those other industries, but the exact same depreciation schedule is a subsidy when it is used by an energy firm
    97% of scientists do not agree: This quote is from a paper polling a number of “climate scientists actively producing papers by Cook. In Science and Education in August 2013, for example, David R. Legates (a professor of geography at the University of Delaware and former director of its Center for Climatic Research) and three coauthors reviewed the same papers as did Mr. Cook and found “only 41 papers—0.3 percent of all 11,944 abstracts or 1.0 percent of the 4,014 expressing an opinion, and not 97.1 percent—had been found to endorse” the claim that human activity is causing most of the current warming. Elsewhere, climate scientists including Craig Idso, Nicola Scafetta, Nir J. Shaviv and Nils-Axel Morner, whose research questions the alleged consensus, protested that Mr. Cook ignored or misrepresented their work. Rigorous international surveys conducted by German scientists Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch—most recently published in Environmental Science & Policy in 2010—have found that most climate scientists disagree with the consensus on key issues such as the reliability of climate data and computer models. They do not believe that climate processes such as cloud formation and precipitation are sufficiently understood to predict future climate change.
    Of the various petitions on global warming circulated for signatures by scientists, the one by the Petition Project, a group of physicists and physical chemists based in La Jolla, Calif., has by far the most signatures—more than 31,000 (more than 9,000 with a Ph.D.). It was most recently published in 2009, and most signers were added or reaffirmed since 2007. The petition states that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of . . . carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”
    Science is not a consensus undertaking: Despite what the climate change lobby want us to believe – science is not a consensus, its hypothesis, experiment, observation & conclusion. A single scientist can overturn an entire scientific theory – eg a single scientist overturned the vehemently protected consensus that the sun revolved around the earth – this conclusion that was deemed heretical by the heliocentric consensus which is strangely how the warming theorists react to any criticism of their theories.
    And in fact, rather than a few lone wolfs an enormous number of scientists disagree with global warming conjectures: Of the various petitions on global warming circulated for signatures by scientists, the one by the Petition Project, a group of physicists and physical chemists based in La Jolla, Calif., has by far the most signatures—more than 31,000 (more than 9,000 with a Ph.D.). It was most recently published in 2009, and most signers were added or reaffirmed since 2007. The petition states that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of . . . carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.

  9. “In other words, if you’re going to argue that no one else is going to act on this problem, you’re arguing that the damages we impose on others through our actions are higher than the numbers I’ve listed above.”

    With respect to Mr. Leach, this makes no sense. Perhaps it is better articulated in the study he linked to, but to suggest that, when one attempts to quantify the damage our emissions create, the figure goes up if others do nothing about the damage THEIR emissions create is nonsensical. It is a premise that implies there is an even greater incentive for places like China and India to do nothing, as by doing nothing the SCC for Alberta will increase and Premier Notley will be inclined to enact even more draconian measures, out of her sense of enviro-guilt, thereby increasing China etc market share.

    • That’s a great point- Our willingness to act provides incentives for other jurisdictions not to act. You could wipe Alberta and Albertans off the map, and within the course of a year or two, all of those reductions in carbon emissions will have been replaced by those of the Chinese accompanied by dramatically higher NOx and SO2 emissions.
      At the same time, the Alberta NDP is peddling a bold lie that shuttering our coal plants will lead to dramatic improvements in air quality, in spite of the fact that naturally occurring airborne dust accounts for some 80% of all airborne particulates, with construction, agriculture, wildfires, and other causes combining for the bulk of the remaining 20%. Particulates from coal plant emissions in North America are almost always grossly overstated, and projected health outcomes due to coal particulates are based almost completely on Third World air quality studies.
      Ask yourself this question- If eliminating coal plant exhaust particulates, which is a small fraction of naturally occurring particulates, and considerably less than what is contributed just from vehicle travel on gravel roads, is supposed to save 3000 lives in Alberta alone PER YEAR, then are other sources of dust killing several thousand more people per year? We know that’s not the case, so then we know that at least some of the rationale behind killing coal is a bold faced lie.

  10. The idea that increased taxes on a segment of goods changes the way we consume it is the biggest falacy of all these think tank and academic policy makers, In Canada, we pay more than a 50% markup on retail alcohol taxes, yet our per capita consumption is on par with other places where booze taxes are much lower. In other words, this is purely a cash grab. In Canada, we have all been paying a $0.25 per litre carbon tax (excise tax) on gasoline for quite some time, yet Canada’s per capita consumption of gasoline is again on par with US consumption. In other words, the 25% gas tax is purely a cash grab. So why do these “policy makers” think that a “carbon tax” will miraculously change the way consumers and businesses use hydrocarbons? We will just suck it up, just like all the other cash grabs out there. But let’s not fool ourselves . . all of these cash grabs are boat anchors on the Canadian economy and on people’s wallets.

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