EMISSION TAXES AND DAMAGE THRESHOLDS IN THE PRESENCE OF PRE-EXISTING REGULATIONS
Many commentators on carbon taxes have only a superficial grasp of the economic theory, which leads them to think that pricing carbon at the marginal damage rate is economically efficient, even though this is only true under very limited and unrealistic circumstances. Lots of previous studies have shown that the rule breaks down under pre-existing taxes, but no one has looked at the effect of pre-existing regulations. I have released a new working paper looking at this topic.
JULY 25, 2017
DO CARBON TAXES IMPROVE ECONOMIC WELFARE WHEN EMISSIONS ARE ALREADY REGULATED?
Newspaper Columns, Commentary and Other
PRESENTATION TO THE HARVARD ELECTRICITY POLICY GROUP PANEL ON CARBON PRICING
I was invited to participate in a meeting of the HEPG which met in Scottsdale AZ on December 8-9, 2016. My PPT slides are here. The voice-over for slide 6 would be something along the lines of "It might be tempting to think the optimal tax is here but in fact it is [go to slide 7] here." I was one of four panellists in a session on carbon pricing. The others were Gernot Wagner of Harvard, Steven Rose of EPRI and Jerry Taylor of the Niskanen Institute. My presentation provided a summary of some core theoretical concepts of optimal emission pricing and the uses and abuses of Social Cost of Carbon numbers. Much of this material was drawn from my Ctax paper for the Calgary School of Public Policy and also from a short course I just finished teaching for Masters and PhD students at Queen's University. I also fitted in brief summaries of my work on empirical ECS and the social cost of carbon, and the temperature-indexed approach to carbon pricing. Chatham House rules forbid specific attribution of comments, but the event confirmed for me the extent to which even PhD-trained economists who work full time on environmental policy seem unaware of what the economic theory of carbon pricing actually says and how little support it gives for most current proposals.
COMMENTS BEFORE SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS
On September 27, 2016 I made a presentation to a Committee of the Canadian Senate which is looking into the procedures and issues surrounding the approvals of new pipelines in Canada. My written submission is here. Apparently my presentation was quite different in character from what the Committee had mostly heard to that point, because I used data and rational arguments to make my points. I will add a video link when it becomes available.
I have created a page to store links to my op-eds. It's available under the 'more...' heading in the Navigation bar.
The idea of this site is very simple: to present the complete environmental record of every community across Canada. The site currently shows air emissions by source (back to 1985), air contaminant levels (back to 1974) and monthly average high temperatures (back to 1900) for hundreds of places across the country. Water pollution data are coming this summer.
The layout is self-explanatory and it's very easy to use. The data are all from government agencies, but most of it has not hitherto been disseminated in a usable form to the public. All my sources are, or will soon be, linked and the data I use will all be easily-downloadable.
So the next time you find yourself in a conversation with someone who (i) is convinced that Canada does nothing to protect the environment, or (ii) thinks winters around here used to be a lot colder/longer/snowier; or it never used to be this warm/cold in April/October/ etc, or (iii) worries/guffaws about the alleged/obvious ecological disaster all around us, and you wonder what is actually going on, look at yourenvironment.ca and find out.
Journal Articles and Discussion Papers
EMPIRICALLY-CONSTRAINED CLIMATE SENSITIVITY AND THE SOCIAL COST OF CARBON
I have completed a study with Kevin Dayaratna of the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC and David Kreutzer of the EPA, which recomputes standard Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) estimates using updated empirical estimates of the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS).
FORMING A MAJORITY COALITION FOR CARBON TAXES UNDER A STATE-CONTINGENT UPDATING RULE
As part of my ongoing project on state-contingent emission pricing I have a new paper with Jamie Lee that looks at the political side of implementing carbon taxes:
A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE ECONOMICS OF CARBON PRICING
A lot of people are talking about carbon pricing these days, but few people seem to have studied the underlying economics in any depth. The design of market-based instruments is definitely an area where seemingly obscure technicalities have large practical implications. I was invited by the University of Calgary School of Public Policy to write a survey paper on the economics of carbon pricing and the resulting report has been published as
PIPELINE UNCERTAINTY AND THE MARKET VALUE OF CANADIAN ENERGY FIRMS
Elmira Aliakbari and I looked at the question of whether unanticipated events that have bearing on whether pipeline projects get approved affects the market value of Canadian oil and gas firms. The working paper version of our study is here: