About: Jonathan Arnold

Recent Posts by Jonathan Arnold

Think big, start small: Eliminating traffic in Canada’s biggest cities by putting a price on it

Imagine your daily commute with no traffic. Cars, buses, and trucks still fill the roads, but everyone is moving at speed. Instead of taking half-an-hour to get to school, the office, or worksite, you get there in a cool 10 minutes. Your coffee or tea is still piping hot when […] More

Optimizing Extended Producer Responsibility in Canada

Extended Producer Responsibility has big potential (see my last blog). But getting the details right is critical. If programs are designed well, EPR could radically improve how Canada recycles. Done poorly, it could make recycling more complicated and more costly, with few environmental benefits. Where do Canadian EPR programs stand? […] More

The Case for Extended Producer Responsibility in Canada

Recycling appears to be broken in Canada. In 2016, a dismal 9% of our plastic waste was recycled. More recently, recycling programs have struggled since China—the world’s biggest recycler—stopped buying unprocessed plastics, paper, and metals. Some local recycling programs have ground to a halt as a result, while other programs […] More

Climate Roulette: Reducing risk through adaptation

Even if the world stopped emitting GHGs today, we’d still face dangerous sea-level rise, hotter temperatures, and more extreme weather events caused by our past emissions. Preparing and planning for these risks—some of which were explained in last week’s blog—can reduce how much damage they ultimately inflict on our health, […] More

Climate Roulette: Risks too big to ignore

It’s a sobering time for anthropogenic climate change. Heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, and hurricanes continue to make headlines around the globe. At the same time, major reports are reminding us that the world is a long way from its climate commitments. We’re even further from limiting global temperature rise to the […] More

Wasted efficiency: Saskatoon is moving in the wrong direction on waste management

Saskatoon is backpedalling on smart waste policy. Bold initiatives were approved in 2018 to reduce landfilled waste and save money, but Council seems to be hitting the brakes. Ignoring Saskatoon’s waste management problem isn’t going to make it go away, however. In fact, further delay will just cost the city—and […] More

Artificially cheap: Why landfills should charge the full cost of waste disposal

The last blog in our solid waste series explored how charging households directly for their garbage can make municipal collection systems more efficient. But household waste represents only one-third of Canada’s total solid waste. Two-thirds is industrial and commercial waste, most of which is taken directly to local landfills. This […] More

Ramping up: Ambitious climate policy returns to British Columbia

It’s been a pivotal few weeks for provincial climate policy. Ontario released its new climate strategy last week, scaling back provincial targets and replacing its cap-and-trade system with a mix of regulations, subsidies, and a pricing system for heavy emitters. Yesterday, the coalition government in British Columbia released its own […] More

If you produce less garbage, you should pay less

Ecofiscal’s report on solid waste management (released last month) has a single idea: market-based policies can improve how we manage our solid waste in Canada and can save taxpayers money. In my last blog, I described six big problems that make waste markets inefficient and costly. This blog tackles the […] More

A waste opportunity: Canada can—and should—make its solid waste systems more efficient

Garbage might be stinky, but it offers a refreshing source of common ground. We can all agree that generating less garbage is a good thing. We can also probably agree that we should manage our garbage in ways that reduce health and environmental risks to our communities. When it comes […] More

Strength in numbers: Carbon pricing can change our climate one action at a time

Evidence from around the world—including here in Canada—shows that carbon pricing works. Yet many people question its efficacy: how can paying higher gas prices, for example, possibly save us from climate change? How can my actions affect something so vast and complex as our climate? It might seem like a […] More

Meaningful climate policy: Can’t someone else do it?

To a narrow, yet vocal contingent of Canadians, taking action on climate change is misguided or downright foolish. Why should Canada do anything about climate change? How can a country with only 0.5% of the world’s population stop the glaciers from melting or the oceans from warming? Why should Canadians […] More

Creative destruction: Why the Chinese ban on imported recyclables could be good for Canada, eventually

The Chinese government’s crackdown on imported recyclables is creating a mess for waste exporting countries like Canada. Historically, China has bought two-thirds of North America’s recyclables. With the change, much of that waste no longer has a market. This is pushing some municipalities to landfill or burn recyclables or pay […] More

Uber traffic: Ride-sharing offers new opportunities for comprehensive congestion pricing

The ride-sharing debate is alive and well in B.C. The provincial government is holding a series of public hearings about whether, and under what conditions, ride-sharing services should be allowed. Amid questions about passenger safety, impacts on the taxi industry, and personal mobility, there are concerns that ride-sharing could also […] More

Stormy fees: Stormwater user fees can reduce flooding risk and improve municipal finances

Ecofiscal’s latest report assesses how well-designed user fees for municipal water and wastewater services promote conservation, generate revenue, and improve water quality. The report, however, scoped out the third pillar of municipal water systems—stormwater services. This blog fills the gap by looking more closely at stormwater services and how user […] More

The benefits of water meters: We can’t manage what we don’t measure

Measuring our water consumption is fundamental to sustainable water management. Water meters provide municipal water utilities with vital information on how, when, and where we use water. They also allow municipalities to charge based on how much water we use. For these reasons and more, installing water meters is Best […] More

TLDR: How user fees can improve the environmental and financial sustainability of municipal water and wastewater services

It’s easy to forget how important municipal water and wastewater services are in our daily lives. These complex systems treat and deliver water for millions of Canadian households and businesses—vital to our health, the economy, and the environment. Yet municipal water systems across Canada face significant challenges. The Ecofiscal Commission’s […] More

A delicate (im)balance: policy interactions and the federal Clean Fuel Standard

Since releasing our report on complementary climate policies, we’ve written a lot about the importance of policy interactions and their implications for effectiveness and cost-effectiveness (see here and here). But one issue we haven’t yet discussed is how policy interactions can affect Canadian federalism. Interactions between provincial carbon pricing policies […] More

Opinion: Ending tolls provides a clean slate for mobility pricing in Metro Vancouver

At first blush, the provincial government’s decision to remove tolls on the Port Mann and the Golden Ears bridges looks like a setback for tackling Metro Vancouver’s crippling traffic. Tolls provide a clear incentive to drive less, take transit or drive at different times. It seems like the province has […] More

Policy interactions untangled: Carbon pricing and low-carbon fuel standards

Canada will have a nationwide carbon price by 2018. As such, it’s time to think about how carbon pricing interacts with other, non-pricing climate policies. Ecofiscal’s latest report, considers how the right non-pricing policies can support carbon pricing in driving low-cost emissions reductions… but also how the wrong policies can undermine carbon […] More

The glass is half-full, but nobody wants to pay for it

In the spirit of water week, the Royal Bank of Canada released its annual water survey as part of its Blue Water Project. The survey makes clear that Canadians value clean water, and want policies that encourage sustainable water management. Surprisingly, however, the survey also finds that an overwhelming majority […] More

Hold Fast: Climate leadership in troubled times

With climate leadership from the U.S. in doubt, some are suggesting Canada should pull back from its climate strategy. If Canada acts alone, the argument goes, we will impose significant costs to the economy, and do little to cut global emissions. But is it true? Do we really need to […] More

Driving change: Carbon pricing and the transportation sector

North American transportation systems have been shaped by cheap and abundant fossil fuels, and so too have our travel habits. Unlike other sectors of the economy that have viable low-carbon alternatives, fossil fuels are still the dominant fuel source for how we move around. And let’s face it, some people […] More

Refrigerators and spray cans: HFC policies are a perfect complement to carbon pricing

Part three of our blog series on complementary climate policies explores the recent global agreement to curb the use of hydrofluorocarbons—a potent greenhouse gas used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and spray cans. Specifically, we look at how a targeted policy that reduces HFCs under the global agreement is a complement […] More

Driving towards cleaner transportation: low-carbon fuel standards

Canada is moving full-steam ahead on carbon pricing. But what other policies might best complement carbon pricing? We’re in the midst of exploring this question, but our most recent report on biofuel policies found that flexible performance standards, including low carbon fuel standards (LCFS) might be a better complement than […] More

(Dis)Incentives by Design: Carbon pricing and biofuels in Canada

A core plank of carbon pricing is that it provides an incentive to use lower-carbon alternatives. In the case of transportation fuels, carbon pricing should make fossil fuels relatively more expensive compared to things like biofuels or other emerging low-carbon technologies, and make petroleum fuels less attractive. But do the […] More

TLDR: The skinny on Ecofiscal’s latest report about biofuel policies

The Ecofiscal Commission’s latest report, Course Correction, looks at the economic and environmental case for biofuel policies in Canada. If you don’t have time to read the report, here’s what you need to know. Canadian governments have supported the production and use of biofuels for over two decades (see here […] More

Pricing incentives kick butts

Cigarette butts are one of the most common types of litter in the world. And while most people would agree that they’re unsightly, cigarette butts are also an environmental hazard and a headache for municipalities. Fortunately, cities such as North Vancouver are pushing for new ways to encourage smokers to […] More

Unpacking the WCI: Hot Air Ain’t Cool

With our summer blog series on the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) winding down, it’s time to tackle one of its thornier criticisms: hot air. This is the claim that a chunk of the supposed emissions reductions from the cap-and-trade system aren’t genuine or real. If true, hot air could be […] More

Pricing urban sprawl: New scope for municipal ecofiscal policies in Alberta?

Cities across Canada are trying to find new ways to contain or reduce suburban sprawl. While the causes and consequences of sprawl are complex and varied, problems of misaligned incentives are at the core. Coming changes to Alberta’s Municipal Government Act (MGA) could give municipalities new policy options to help […] More

How should road congestion in Metro Vancouver be priced?

If you ever find yourself at a random party in Metro Vancouver and are struggling to make conversation, asking about the region’s traffic woes is a guaranteed ticket for a lively debate. Metro Vancouver has some of the worst traffic in Canada, and is intensifying with the region’s rapid population […] More

Holding your breath for cleaner air: congestion pricing and air pollution

Last November, we released a report on how pricing congestion—charging drivers to use roads to ensure faster and more reliable commutes—can help solve crippling congestion in Canadian cities. Governments can design congestion pricing systems according to different objectives; we argued that the number one priority should be to reduce congestion […] More

Choosing Wisely: Nova Scotia

Has a swell of support for carbon pricing been building in Nova Scotia? In 2014, the Roundtable on Environment and Sustainable Prosperity recommended the consideration of implementing a provincial or regional revenue-neutral carbon tax. Similar recommendations were echoed by the NS Tax and Regulatory Review. The idea of an Atlantic […] More

How varied road tolls can reduce congestion: A closer look at Highway 407 in Ontario

Last November the Ecofiscal Commission released its report on congestion pricing in Canadian cities. Road congestion is getting worse in many Canadian cities—big and small—and we believe that congestion pricing is the crucial and missing piece of a broader, coordinated package of policies to improve urban mobility. Momentum is already […] More

Common threads: Linking carbon pricing policies

Last week marked a significant milestone for carbon pricing in Canada: the Ontario government released final details of its cap and trade program. In 2017, Ontario’s system—responsible for nearly one-quarter of Canadian emissions—will operate on its own. But in 2018, it will link with Quebec and California’s cap-and-trade system, creating […] More

The Benefits of Coordinating Canadian Carbon Pricing Strategies

As part of our ongoing blog series, we are exploring some of the difficult questions around designing and implementing a coordinated provincial-federal carbon pricing strategy. The first blog explored the core objectives and challenges of such a strategy, while the second blog explored the size of the emissions gap (i.e. […] More

A legal bout in the U.S. shines light on some of the big challenges with biofuels in Canada

Biofuel policy south of the border is heating up. On January 8th seven agricultural and biofuel groups initiated a court challenge against a recent ruling by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which lowers the mandated minimum renewable fuel content in gasoline and diesel. The court challenge is interesting in its […] More

Carbon pricing would help position Nova Scotia to thrive in a low-carbon world

So far Nova Scotia hasn’t played a prominent role in Canadian climate change discussions. With a population of less than one million, and relatively modest industrial activity, provincial emissions represent roughly 3% of the Canadian total. Indeed, few outside the ocean-front province are aware that Nova Scotia is one of […] More

Smart Carbon Policy for Alberta: reducing emissions AND addressing competitiveness

Alberta is about to release details of its new climate action strategy. Given the nature of Alberta’s economy, getting these details right is critical. In particular, the question of carbon competitiveness matters for Alberta more than any other province. But here’s the thing: policy can be designed to reduce emissions […] More

You think your daily battle with traffic is bad? Try driving a truck all day in the city

by Jonathan Arnold and Nancy Olewiler People who commute by car love to share their epic battles with road congestion. But how would you feel if driving in congestion was a part of your job? Picture this: you’re a truck driver or a tradesperson, sitting in gridlock trying to get […] More

Should we take a closer look at biofuels subsidies?

The fall harvest is upon us. Crisp air, pumpkin spice lattes, and flannel shirts are in full swing. But as the final crops are harvested before the winter frost, it’s an ideal time to reflect on an industry that consumes a significant portion of Canada’s corn, wheat, and soybeans—conventional biofuels. […] More

The Canadian Energy Strategy: Big Ideas But Light on the Details

Two weeks ago in St. John’s, the provincial and territorial Premiers struck a historic deal on a national Canadian energy strategy. While it’s a critical first step in establishing common ground across provinces, much needs to be done to define concrete actions. Economic growth, prosperity, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility. […] More

Water Policy: Hot and Thirsty in British Columbia

British Columbia is parched and veiled in a haze of smoke and ash. Records for the number and size of wild fires, low water reservoir levels, and extreme temperatures have been smashed in recent weeks. The month of June is now predicted to be the hottest on record. Metro Vancouver, […] More

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