(for all op-eds back to 2014 see my op-eds page)
May 15, 2017 Canada is the model for what not to do with carbon pricing
April 26, 2017 The case for pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Accord
April 20, 2017 Amazingly, data show that Canada's air is getting cleaner despite more cars, industry and people
January 24, 2017 Turns out Ontario's painful coal phase-out didn't help pollution -- and Queen's Park even knew it wouldn't
MAY 15, 2017
SOME RECENT NEWSPAPER COLUMNS
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.
HIGH SCHOOL CLIMATE CHANGE DEBATE
On May 13 2016 I participated in a debate at the University of Toronto (Scarborough Campus) for Toronto-area high school students on the topic of climate change. The resolution was: "Should we be skeptical about the science suggesting that GHG emissions are the primary cause of global climate change?" I was arguing for the Yes position and my opponent was Dr. Tanzina Mohsin, a climate scientist at the University of Toronto. The debate and the Q&A session went for just over an hour. In the video below, Dr. Mohsin and I each spoke for 15 minutes, then gave a short rebuttal to the other, then presented closing arguments. The audio is not great in places but otherwise the video quality is pretty good. Unfortunately no vote was taken so we don't know if the event changed any minds.
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
INFORMATION AGGREGATION IN A PREDICTION MARKET FOR CLIMATE OUTCOMES
Elmira Aliakbari and I have released a working paper:
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).
DID THE COAL PHASE-OUT REDUCE ONTARIO AIR POLLUTION?
I coauthored a report with Elmira Aliakbari looking at declining air pollution in three large Ontario cities (Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa). We constructed a statistical model to see how much of the decline could be explained by the phase-out of coal-fired power generation, as opposed to reductions in other domestic and US sources. Our study was published by the Fraser Institute on January 17, 2017:
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: