COMMENTS ON REPEAL OF GREEN ENERGY ACT
I was invited to appear before the Ontario Standing Committee on Social Policy which held hearings on Bill 34, An Act to Repeal the Green Energy Act, October 30 2018. I was not able to meet the committee in person but I submitted written comments.
OCTOBER 30, 2018
COMMENTS ON REPEAL OF GREEN ENERGY ACT
Newspaper Columns, Commentary and Other
UPDATE: Canadian historical precipitation data is now on YourEnvironment.ca!
The idea of this site is very simple: to build the complete environmental record of every community across Canada. The site currently shows air emissions by source (back to 1990), air contaminant levels (back to 1974), monthly average high temperatures (back to 1900) for hundreds of places across the country, and water pollution records for several provinces.
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 linked and the data I use are easily-downloadable.
So the next time you find yourself in a conversation about some aspect of the environment and you wonder what is actually going on, look at yourenvironment.ca to find out.
SENATE TESTIMONY ON BILL C-69
On October 18 2018 I testified before the Canadian Senate Committee on Energy, Natural Resources and the Environment hearing on "Social License and the Duty to Consult" which is part of its review of Bill C-69.
I have written elsewhere about the problems with the concept of "Social License." In my testimony I make 3 points to the effect that the proposed legislation seems to me to be at odds with the stated intentions behind it.
CORRECTING FALSE CLAIMS IN THE NYC LAWSUIT
The City of New York has filed a lawsuit against a group of large oil and gas companies including Exxon Mobil, alleging among other things that they conspired to mislead the public about the dangers of global warming. Paragraph 87 of the complaint alleges that I was paid by Exxon to do the "hockey stick" work for the Fraser Institute. The claim is completely false and the paragraph is full of untrue statements. I have issued this statement in response:
FIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
In late 2017 I was contacted via email by a group of high school students in Europe who asked if I would answer some questions about global warming for a project they were doing. Here are the questions they posed, and the answers I gave them.
ARE CLIMATE MODELS OVERSTATING WARMING?
There has been a lot of discussion about a new paper tying model over-estimation of warming to the policy agenda; viz., there is more time than previously claimed to implement emission controls. I have written on this previously but in light of the current discussion I put up a blog post at Judy Curry's Climate Etc. blog:
Basically I go through a couple of indicators and arrive at an affirmative answer.
Journal Articles and Discussion Papers
Together with coauthors at the Fraser Institute I have published a study looking at how to get Ontario electricity prices down.
We delve into Ontario public accounts data and show that subsidy payments to the renewables sector now comprise the largest component (about 40%) of the Global Adjustment, adding about 4 cents per kWh to our power prices. But renewables provide very little power in Ontario. Surprisingly, ninety percent of the revenue to the renewables sector is GA-funded subsidy, with only ten percent deriving from actual power sales. We recommend that these liabilities be terminated through legislation. Other savings on the GA are possible but lack of disclosure prevents detailed calculations.
John Christy and I published a paper in Earth and Space Science, a publication of the American Geophysical Union:
There has been a lot of discussion about the relative lack of observed warming in the tropical troposphere compared to model projections. We confirm the mismatch using three 60-year weather balloon records. We also outline four criteria for a valid test of the major component of interest in climate models, namely the moist thermodynamics in the troposphere that generates amplified global warming in response to rising greenhouse gases. The criteria are measurability, specificity, independence and uniqueness. The 200-300mb layer in the tropics satisfies all four, pretty much uniquely in the climate system, making it very suitable as a test target. The results clearly show that models misrepresent a process fundamental to their usability for studying the climate impacts of greenhouse gases.
ENVIRONMENTAL RANKING FOR CANADA AND THE OECD
Together with Elmira Aliakbari and Ashley Stedman of the Fraser Institute we constructed a comprehensive index of environmental quality for 33 high-income countries. Canada ranks 10th, contrary to a number of past studies that claimed we were a filthy bottom-dweller:
On some key individual measures Canada is well inside the top 1. We ranked poorly on sulphur dioxide, which surprised me, but if you look closely at that one, most countries are clustered together near the top and there is little distinction among them.
BROWNFIELDS REMEDIATION IN ONTARIO: HOW TO STREAMLINE THE SYSTEM
Back in January 2017 I published a study through the Frontier Centre for Public Policy on Brownfields Remediation in Ontario. It was based on a series of interviews with experts working in the field of site remediation and construction. The system has developed some acute bottlenecks since reforms were implement in 2011, leading to escalating costs and long delays in construction approvals. With the election of a new growth-oriented government in Ontario, I thought it would be timely to draw attention to the paper once again:
In addition to explaining the current system for obtaining a Record of Site Conditions we identify where and why the bottlenecks are forming and we make a set of recommendations for speeding up the system without compromising the intent of the regulations.
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.
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).