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Arguments for and against “supply-side” climate policies

Our April blog about supply-side climate policies generated some online discussion. Some comments focused on the bigger, global picture. Others focused on the nuts and bolts. In particular, we got questions about our “leakage” assertion—namely, that if Canada cut back its production of fossil fuels there would just be an offsetting […] More

Summary of Saskatchewan Court Decision on the Federal Carbon Pricing Law

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled that the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (GGPPA) is constitutionally valid; it falls within federal authority under the “National Concern” power – a branch of the Peace, Order and Good Government power. What is the decision? 3 of the 5 judges joined in […] More

What “demand is inelastic” actually means

“A carbon tax does nothing for the environment.” “Road tolls won’t affect driving habits.” “Prices don’t matter when we’re using water for everyday life.” We hear these arguments frequently when discussing ecofiscal policies. Critics might even drop a little economics jargon. But that doesn’t mean these arguments are grounded in […] More

Carbon pricing is boring

If you judged by Twitter alone, you could be forgiven for thinking carbon pricing was as controversial as the colour of a certain dress. And look, I get it. On one hand, there’s increasing apprehension around the costs of climate change. On the other, there’s anxiety around the affordability of […] More

Feeling good without actually doing good

I join with most Canadians who have come to accept the reality of climate change and with those who agree that the emissions from burning fossil fuels–mainly coal, oil, and natural gas−are a major cause of such change. I also join with most Canadian by asking: What can we do […] More

User fees for water and wastewater encourage wise behaviour

Canadians are a water-loving people and are very proud of our freshwater resources. Canadians also benefit from world-class municipal water and wastewater services. These systems deliver clean drinking water to our taps and treat the wastewater that goes down our toilets and drains, and they are directly connected to the […] More

How are governments recycling carbon pricing revenues?

If they don’t already, every province in Canada will soon have a price on carbon. The main purpose of carbon pricing is to reduce emissions, but they also generate revenues for governments. When it comes to recycling these revenues back into the economy, governments have plenty of options. In this […] More

There’s probably more consensus on output-based pricing than you think

Meeting Canada’s climate targets in a way that is best for our economic prosperity requires broad policy that creates consistent incentives across all emissions in the economy, from individual households and small businesses to heavy industry. Output-based pricing must be a key part of that mix if Canada is to […] More

The facts about carbon pricing in Canada

In 2019, every jurisdiction in Canada will have a price on carbon. It is the culmination of four years of work to develop a more coordinated approach to climate policy across Canada. Provinces had the opportunity to design their own carbon pricing systems. The federally designed carbon pricing policy (aka, […] More

Climate Roulette: Getting to the heart of the climate challenge

‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ It’s a cliché, but it holds an important lesson for climate change. So far in our blog series on climate risk, we’ve talked about the severity of the risks we face, what those risks mean for us, and how we […] More

Our Annual Report 2018

LETTER FROM THE CHAIR AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR On October 8, 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report, affirming that humanity has about a decade to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. A few hours later, William Nordhaus received a Nobel prize in economics for his […] 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: The human side of climate risk

No one can fully get their mind around climate change. Confronting even one dimension of the problem—socioeconomic, environmental, cultural, geopolitical—can be overwhelming. Fortunately, we don’t have to know everything about climate change to confront it effectively. We can examine it through the lens of risk. As part our series on […] 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

Why the Ecofiscal Commission is intervening in the carbon-pricing court case

This week, the Ecofiscal Commission will participate as an intervener in the Saskatchewan government’s court challenge of the federal carbon pricing policy. We will not be there to support the federal government; nor will we be there to support the Saskatchewan government. We’ll be there to support carbon pricing. We […] More

When we debate carbon pricing, can we at least stick to the facts?

As a group of economists, we still believe that facts should matter when it comes to making important policy decisions. Unfortunately, not everyone involved in the Canadian climate policy debate appears to agree. Myths and rhetoric are pushing the real facts to the sidelines. The result is a mix of […] More

Redwater decision is progress, but environmental liabilities run deep

by Simon Dyer, Chris Ragan & Blake Shaffer The Supreme Court of Canada last week overturned the Court of Appeal of Alberta’s decision in the closely-watched Redwater legal case. The court’s ruling ensures environmental cleanup costs will get priority over creditors when companies go bankrupt. The Redwater decision reinforces the polluter-pay […] More

Show and Tell: It’s time to stop hiding our support for climate action

Earlier this month, an all-star lineup in the United States endorsed a plan for a carbon tax. Signed by 45 economists from across the political spectrum, the list included former Federal Reserve chairs and Nobel Prize winners. If that’s not carbon pricing going mainstream, I don’t know what is. Yet […] 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

Carbon pricing works—even if emissions are still rising

An old, debunked argument against carbon taxes has flared up recently: If total emissions aren’t falling, the tax must not be working. Let’s quash that myth. We at the Ecofiscal Commission and others have written extensively and consistently on this subject (see here, here, here). Without new policies, emissions have […] 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

Up in the Air: A look at Ontario’s new climate policy

After coming to power, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government got right to work on climate policy. Over the last six months, they've dismantled the province’s cap-and-trade program, loosened the province’s emissions targets, and taken the federal government to court over the carbon-pricing backstop; all the while, we were told a new plan was […] More

We can mitigate climate change and adapt to it at the same time

On Black Friday, the world was handed another inch-thick report detailing how climate change will pull us into the red. The Fourth National Climate Assessment, released by the Trump Administration, spelled out in stark terms how climate change will affect everything from America’s infrastructure to its national security, and how […] More

If you’re a Conservative who opposes carbon pricing, are you really a conservative?

At last weekend’s policy conference in Toronto, Canada’s two most important Conservative leaders stood together against carbon pricing. Doug Ford and Andrew Scheer both argue that it is an ineffective tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and constitutes open warfare on Canadian families and businesses. Allied with Alberta’s Jason Kenney, […] 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

Cleanup liabilities in Alberta’s oil patch: Risks vs. costs

Last week, a news story broke with an eye-grabbing headline: Cleaning up Alberta’s oil patch could cost $260 billion. This figure massively exceeded the provincial regulator’s official estimate of $58 billion. Reading a little further down revealed some key details. First, the $260 billion was — according to the Alberta Energy […] More

Trudeau’s carbon tax rebate is smart – but complicated

The federal government announced this week that its carbon tax will apply in early 2019 to those provinces without their own – Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick. It also announced that most of the carbon-tax revenues will be returned through the income-tax system to households. With this two-part policy, […] More

An explainer on the federal carbon pricing backstop

Yesterday, the federal government announced the details of its carbon pricing “back-stop.” The plan lays out an approach to filling the gaps across Canada in provinces that aren’t implementing their own carbon pricing policies.  It also considers the net impacts on people in those provinces.  The upshot? The system is a […] More

Less trash means more cash for Calgarians

by Lindsay Tedds, Preston Manning and Jim Dinning It’s easy to put our garbage at the curb and forget about it. But waste management isn’t free: we always pay for it, one way or another, sooner or later. Maybe it’s through monthly fees. Or maybe it’s higher property taxes down the […] More

Alberta falling behind in making manufacturers reduce waste

Here’s an unpopular opinion: we should spend more time thinking about garbage. After all, waste management services are essential for Albertans. But they’re also not free. A new report from Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission argues that we can do better. With better waste policies, we can make our waste system more […] 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

To avoid catastrophic climate change, we need carbon pricing

On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report, affirming that humanity has about a decade to hold global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees C. Hours later, William Nordhaus became a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for economics. His work was some of the first to describe […] More

The diaper dilemma

Let’s talk about diapers. Like many new parents, I’m struggling: cloth or disposables? On the one hand, I want to go with the more sustainable choice. But on the other, I’m wondering why I should even have to think about it at all. Why can’t the environmental impacts of cloth […] More

How carbon dividends affect incentives (hint: they don’t)

Last week, Clean Prosperity and EnviroEconomics published a new report recommending the federal government rebate carbon-pricing revenues directly to households. The key takeaway: Implementing a carbon price and issuing these ‘carbon dividends’ could make a majority of Canadian households better off. It’s a valuable finding. But you might ask: What’s […] More

On Provincial Climate Policy and Early Action

When it comes to provincial climate policy, not every province is starting from the same place. Some, for example, have previously implemented policies to reduce GHG emissions. Should provinces be able to use these “early actions” to justify implementing less stringent carbon pricing policies now? In short, no. Here’s a […] More

The answers municipal governments have been looking for?

by Rachel Samson Municipal governments are facing multiple, growing, and overlapping challenges. Yet, there are tools available to address these challenges that are not being used to their full potential.  Market-based policies such as well-designed user fees can help reduce traffic, cut water use, and improve solid waste management, while […] More

Dealing with climate change is the ultimate long game

To decarbonize on a timescale necessary to avoid the worst of climate change, business as usual is not going to cut it. We need policies to give ourselves the necessary boost, policies that drive deep emissions reductions. And there’s an abundance of evidence that carbon pricing can do exactly that. […] More

It’s time to put a price on the risk of mining disasters

Four years ago, the Mount Polley disaster reminded us that mining comes with risks. On Aug. 4, 2014, a tailings dam at Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley copper and gold mine ruptured, spilling 24 million cubic metres of water and tailings into several lakes and rivers in British Columbia’s Interior. It […] More

Understanding the recent changes to the federal carbon price

Earlier this week, we learned that the federal government is making some changes to its carbon pricing system; specifically, the part that will apply to industrial sectors. While the design choice is an important one, its significance has been blown out of proportion. Let’s take a look at the change […] More

Pricing risk to the environment works best when it’s fair

Our latest report Responsible Risk explains how putting a price on risk to the environment can make disasters less likely. The report shows how we can use economic tools to strengthen companies’ incentives to manage environmental risks posed by their operations. In this blog, I’ll discuss why when it comes […] More

A missing piece in the oil transport debate

Concerns about the environmental risks from oil transport are a key aspect of the debates about energy infrastructure in Canada. Pipelines pose risks of spills and so do tankers. At the same time, the recent five-year anniversary of the tragic Lac-Mégantic derailment reminded us of the risks that come with […] More

Fair comparison of the cost of climate action needed in Saskatchewan

by Brett Dolter & Dale Beugin The Saskatchewan government released a two-page press release last week describing the impacts of carbon pricing, alongside a report from the University of Regina. More evidence about policy options is always welcome. But evidence is only helpful when used in context. For three reasons, […] More

If not carbon pricing in Ontario – which works well – then what, Mr. Ford?

by Dale Beugin, Don Drummond, Glen Hodgson and Mel Cappe We’d like to correct the record on some of the myths and misunderstandings surrounding carbon pricing. The economic evidence clearly contradicts some of the recent rhetoric coming from Ontario. In short: Carbon pricing works. Carbon pricing is cheaper than any […] More

Can Ontario hit its targets without carbon pricing?

Ontario’s new government plans to dismantle the provincial cap-and-trade system and resist the federal backstop, essentially opposing carbon pricing in all forms. Though he hasn't provided details, the premier-designate says he will “come down heavy on polluters.” Let’s take his statement seriously. What would a real plan to decarbonize Ontario […] More

Tread Carefully: Ontario’s cap-and-trade system meets a fork in the road

Ontario elected a new government yesterday, and as far as carbon pricing is concerned, change is afoot. The province’s cap-and-trade system is working well, but the incoming Progressive Conservatives have signaled their discontent with the status quo. In this blog, we’ll look at their options—everything from leaving the WCI entirely […] More

Why 1.6% matters

Canadians have strong moral and economic arguments for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. But how could Canada’s seemingly minor share of global emissions (about 1.6%) possibly be of consequence? What do our actions matter? Quite a bit, actually, and we can slice the data in different ways to show why. […] More

The costs of climate change are rising

Debate about reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions frequently references the costs of different policy choices going forward. There is comparatively little debate about the current and expected economic costs of climate change. Policy debate and decisions need to recognize that there is a cost to doing little or nothing to […] 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

Do OBAs make sense for the electricity sector?

Governments in Canada are using Output-Based Allocations (OBAs) to address leakage in emissions-intensive and trade-exposed (EITE) sectors. As I discuss here, there are strong arguments for using OBAs in EITE sectors. But governments are also looking at using them in the electricity sector, which is typically not considered EITE. In […] More

Opinion: The real costs and benefits of carbon pricing

Yes, carbon pricing, like all climate policies, will have economic costs. But that doesn’t mean we should take no policy action. Last week saw lots of talk around the economic costs of carbon pricing. In one sense, that’s appropriate. In fact, policy costs are exactly why economists like carbon pricing—because […] More

Carbon pricing works in the U.S.

Carbon pricing is emerging as the tool of choice to reduce emissions. More governments are relying on carbon pricing, and more evidence is piling up that it works. Ecofiscal’s latest report highlights three case studies, including one on California. Today, we’ll dive deeper into the U.S.’s other cap-and-trade system: the […] More

We can design fair carbon pricing (and we already are)

In discussions about carbon pricing, the question of how it will impact low-income households comes up a lot. Put in other words, is carbon pricing unfair? In this blog, I discuss how carbon pricing might affect low-income earners, how smart policy can address potential equity issues, and what Canadian governments […] More

Carbon pricing works in Sweden

Governments around the world are embracing carbon pricing as a central component of their strategies to reduce GHG emissions. Ecofiscal’s latest report highlights why and how carbon pricing works, with case studies from British Columbia, California and the UK. Today, we’ll build on those three and dust off a case […] More

Counting Down: Cape Town’s Water Crisis

On World Water Day, all eyes are on Cape Town, South Africa. My hometown is struggling with a water shortage crisis and approaching ‘Day Zero’— the day when its municipal water delivery will cease for all residents except those providing essential services. Cape Town’s residents have delayed Day Zero — […] More

Hey! Who put this carbon in my ice cream?

How big is your carbon footprint? Getting the full picture can be difficult. We have a sense of the emissions we produce directly, when we drive our cars or cook with gas, for example. Emissions we produce indirectly are less obvious, but they’re still “embodied” in the goods we buy. […] 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

Cost Control: The cost-effectiveness of a Clean Fuel Standard

by Dale Beugin and Nic Rivers The most significant greenhouse gas policy you’ve probably never heard of—the federal Clean Fuel Standard (CFS)—is being developed this winter and throughout 2018. The federal government is looking for substantial emissions reductions from the policy. But a key question is how much will those […] More

The point of a carbon price is to avoid paying it

Carbon prices don't work in quite the same way as other taxes or levies. Unlike income or sales taxes, which are primarily revenue tools, carbon prices are all about reducing emissions (sure, they also raise revenues, but that’s a separate issue). But if you reduce your GHG emissions, you can […] More

Albertans are environmentalists (even if they don’t know it)

Canada is a decentralized, sparsely populated and very, very big country. Cultures and attitudes are often regional. Provinces don’t always see eye to eye. As an Albertan living in Ontario, these challenges have become evident in my ongoing dialogue with Albertans—especially when it comes to climate and carbon pricing. It can, […] More

Annual Report 2017: Letter from the Chair and Executive Director

When we first started putting the Ecofiscal Commission together in 2013, our goal was to spark discussion. Economists were already talking about using economic instruments to address environmental issues, but we wanted to add “ecofiscal solutions” to the vocabulary of everyday Canadians and the agendas of governments across the country. […] 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

Water works in Okotoks: Lessons from a small, fast-growing Canadian town

Smaller Canadian municipalities face unique challenges when it comes to sustaining healthy water and wastewater systems. To reduce the pressure, many of them are taking multi-pronged approaches to conservation and cost recovery. As we discuss in our latest report, well-designed user fees (i.e., water rates) are effective at curbing water […] 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

Maintaining momentum: only additional emission reductions, please

Today, the federal government sent letters to its provincial counterparts laying out a timeline for implementing pan-Canadian carbon pricing. It lays out timing for federal legislation, for the provinces to demonstrate that their provincial policies are consistent with the federal standard, and for the federal backstop to kick in if […] More

Unpacking climate policy jargon

Climate policy can be complicated—especially if you’re talking to economists. Carbon pricing? Complementary policies? Marginal abatement costs? Let’s unpack some of this jargon in the simplest ways possible. What’s the problem? Negative externalities occur when someone’s actions impose costs on others. For example, consuming energy creates pollution, which has costs. […] More

Output-based pricing in the real world

This week, Alberta released its Carbon Competitiveness Incentive policy, which lays out the mechanics of its output-based pricing (OBP) system. We’ve talked a lot of about output-based pricing (also known as “output-based allocations” or OBAs) here at Ecofiscal as a sensible way to maintain incentives to reduce emissions, while also […] More

Saskatchewan remains an outlier on carbon pricing

On Monday, the Saskatchewan government unveiled its Made-in-Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy. As expected, it does not feature a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, but does include a form of carbon pricing. There are many details that remain undefined in the Strategy, but let's unpack a few key elements. Missing […] More

Air pollution is costing us dearly

Pollution is costly. Two recent studies clearly show that air pollution damages our health, increases healthcare costs, and is a drag on economic growth. Given these high costs—costs that we all pay one way or another—reducing air pollution makes a lot of economic and environmental sense. This blog looks at […] More

Details matter for Nova Scotia’s cap-and-trade system

Nova Scotia is moving forward with a provincial cap-and-trade system. It’s great the province is embracing carbon pricing, and Ontario and Quebec have shown that cap-and-trade can work. Still, choosing carbon pricing is just the first step. Carbon pricing is the lowest-cost approach to reducing GHG emissions—but only if it’s […] More

Smooth transitions: Shifting from cap-and-trade to a carbon tax

by Dale Beugin, Blake Shaffer, and Trevor Tombe Members of Ontario’s PC Party have voted strongly in favour of replacing the province’s current cap-and-trade system with a federally administered carbon tax. There would be important pros and cons for such a transition, should the PCs come to power in 2018, […] More

Canada’s park paradox

Canada’s national parks host millions and millions of visitors every year, and entry was free in 2017 as part of Canada 150. As you might expect, people have flocked in record numbers. But national parks belong to the public. Should access always be free? And aren’t more visitors, rather than […] More

Brian Pallister chooses his own path for carbon pricing in Manitoba

The news from last week: Manitoba is moving forward with its own Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan. Kudos to Manitoba and the Pallister government for stepping up on carbon pricing and putting forward a plan that seems to have support from a broad set of interests. But how do the […] 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

A Price for All Seasons: Tofino’s Journey to Water Security

Dry summers are the norm in British Columbia, especially of late. They can mean anything from forest fires to low crop yields to water scarcity. To prepare for the inevitability of future droughts, BC municipalities are taking innovative approaches to conserve their water. Today, as part of our new report […] More

Opinion: Carbon pricing can reduce GHG emissions and maintain healthy economic performance, but only if done right

Carbon pricing is coming to the Atlantic provinces. They are part of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF), which kicks in by 2018 and requires carbon pricing across the country. This is a good thing: a decade of experience in Canadian provinces shows that carbon pricing […] 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

Revisiting Albertan Scepticism

A lot has happened in Alberta since January 1. The economy is on the mend, provincial politics will never be the same and, yes, there’s a $20 carbon tax in place. Last Christmas, I went home to Calgary and wrote a blog about my conversations with carbon pricing skeptics. Over […] 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

Market boosters should support made-in-Manitoba carbon tax

Premier Brian Pallister supports carbon pricing and is in the process of designing a made-in-Manitoba carbon tax. He is right to do so, as it is the single best way to reduce the province’s greenhouse gas emissions. Opponents must explain why they are prepared to put Manitoba’s economic prosperity at […] More

The backdoor in the Pan-Canadian Framework

The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF) lets provinces use either carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems to price carbon. But it also might come with a backdoor that would allow provinces to rely on other, non-pricing climate policies. This blog explains the backdoor, and why it might—or […] More

How can climate policy reduce our vulnerability to forest fires? It’s a complex equation

The B.C. wildfires continue to rage, displacing tens of thousands and bringing the incredible human costs into fresh focus. Forests cover almost 35% of Canada. They are both a tremendous asset and a source of disaster. In the face of climate change, scenes similar to those in Inland B.C. will […] More

Backhanded complements, redux: complementary policies and linkage

Lately on the Ecofiscal blog, we’ve gone on at length about designing complementary, non-pricing policies that support — and not undermine — carbon pricing. Our focus, as always, has been policies that reduce more emissions at lower cost. But pretty clearly, some governments are also implementing some relatively high-cost ­ […] More

Alberta’s coal phase-out as a benefit-expanding policy

Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan is more than a carbon tax. It is a package of policies designed to reduce emissions. One of the cornerstones of this policy package is the phase-out of coal-fired electricity by 2030. But to what extent does this policy genuinely complement Alberta’s carbon price? Today, building […] More

Can subsidies for electric vehicles “boost the signal” from carbon pricing?

Québec car buyers might have more than one reason to consider an electric vehicle (EV). For one, Québec’s cap-and-trade system increases the cost of gasoline. But the province also provides a cash rebate for going electric. Does that combination makes for good policy? Does Québec — or for that matter, […] More

Fixing a hole: The role of gap-fillers in a climate policy package

In our latest report, Supporting Carbon Pricing, we delve into complementary climate policies – that is, non-pricing policies that do things carbon pricing cannot. There are three different types of policies that can genuinely complement carbon pricing: gap-fillers, signal-boosters, and benefit-expanders. Today, in the first of a series of three […] 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

TLDR – A digest of our new report Supporting Carbon Pricing

With the signing of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Climate Change and Clean Growth in December 2016, nationwide carbon pricing is on its way in Canada. In addition, the provinces and the federal government are putting a range of other, non-pricing climate policies on the table. But how can they ensure […] More

Is Canada’s carbon-pricing policy striking the right balance?

by Chris Ragan, Peter Robinson and Steve Williams Debates about Canadian climate policy attract people from different perspectives and life experiences – including the three authors of this column. What views could we possibly share regarding sensible climate policy? Heading up an environmental organization, Peter Robinson understandably emphasizes the urgent […] More

Explaining Output-Based Allocations (OBAs)

Last week the federal government unveiled a proposal for the carbon levy that it plans to apply in provinces that don’t implement their own carbon price. Under the federal instrument, most types of emissions would pay the full value of the carbon tax. But large emitters that face global competition […] More

The Curious Case of Counterfactuals

We’ve consistently made the case that carbon taxes work. But what does it mean if emissions rise over time, even with a carbon tax in place? It might mean that the price is too low, but it sure doesn’t mean the tax isn’t working. Interestingly, there’s a Canadian case that […] More

How emitters respond to carbon pricing and to revenue recycling

A carbon price pretty clearly creates incentives for emitters to produce fewer GHG emissions. But there’s more than one way to reduce emissions. In today’s blog, I’m going to dig into the vault, and pull out an old piece of modelling analysis that didn’t quite make it into our reports, […] More

Road salt — a costly way to fight winter

As winter recedes and spring fills the air, Canadians find the chalky residue of salt everywhere. Road salt is an inexpensive option to clear our streets of ice and snow, but the damages to our cities and environment cost us in the long run. Can ecofiscal policies offer a potential solution? […] More

Linking climate policy and economic growth in Saskatchewan

by  Craig Alexander and Chris Ragan Even after last week’s budget, Saskatchewan faces two important economic challenges. The first is to enhance its economic growth, projected to be below the national average this year. The second is to reduce its GHG emissions, currently the highest in Canada in per-capita terms. Addressing […] More

Paved Paradise: Could congestion pricing work in Ottawa?

Two weeks ago, the Healthy Transportation Coalition (HTC) held a forum at the University of Ottawa. The subject: congestion pricing in our nation’s capital. The HTC hosted six expert speakers for a lively debate (including our research team’s fearless leader, Dale Beugin). The same day, four Ottawa city councillors released […] More

Carbon pricing in Canada’s North

I recently spent some time in Yellowknife. While I was there, I had the chance to talk carbon pricing with some government officials and stakeholders. Under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Climate Change, provinces and territories need to have a carbon price policy in place by next year. As they move […] 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

How carbon pricing will drive Canadians to save

by  Annette Verschuren and Chris Ragan The new carbon-pricing systems are now in effect in Ontario and Alberta, and some people are complaining that the policies sting a little. This is not surprising. Carbon pricing works precisely by raising the price of carbon-intensive goods and services, incentivizing all of us […] 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

Why carbon pricing and rebates to oil companies go hand in hand

We want firms to get cleaner, not smaller. So we should help those most exposed to competitiveness pressures caused by carbon pricing. Canadian provinces are actively moving toward putting a broad-based price on greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, some of them are providing cash rebates back to businesses […] More

In defense of cost-effectiveness

Here at the Ecofiscal Commission, our focus on the costs of policy is a bit of a calling card. Yes, we are absolutely interested in the effectiveness of environmental policies (i.e., to what extent do they reduce pollution or environmental damage?) But as a panel of economists, the Commission also […] More

Smooth sailing: Distance-travelled charges offer a flexible policy tool to tackle traffic

The topics of congestion pricing and tolling are heating up in a number of Canadian jurisdictions, most recently in Nova Scotia. We are taking the opportunity to shine a light on various forms of congestion pricing, based on our 2015 report We Can’t Get There From Here. This blog discusses […] More

Annual Report 2016: Letter from the Chair

In the busyness of my day-to-day work, I too rarely take the time to reflect on our progress at the Ecofiscal Commission. But reports like this one provide the opportunity to stop and take stock of just how dramatically the Canadian policy landscape has changed. Over the past two years, […] More

Some like it HOT: High-occupancy toll lanes can be a piece of the congestion puzzle

Last month, Toronto’s plan to implement road tolls on two of its major roads was rejected by the provincial government. It’s not back to square one, however: programs to combat congestion in the GTA continue to grow. Today, as part of a series based on our 2015 report on congestion […] More

Campbell – A carbon tax is good, but the NDP is going about it the wrong way

by Gordon Campbell All Canadians depend on energy for jobs, for public services, and for transfer payments. Energy is about the value of the Canadian dollar and about how much things cost to buy. We all fall prey to the tired dogmas that suggest a strong energy industry prevents us […] 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

Four myths about Ontario’s cap-and-trade system

Ontario’s cap-and-trade system is now in force and is the focus of much debate. Amidst all of the discussion, there is plenty of rhetoric, hyperbole, and questionable statements. Some of these have grown into large and scary myths which need to be debunked. The first myth is that the cap-and-trade […] More

Slaying the myths about Alberta’s carbon tax

Alberta’s new carbon tax is now in effect and is naturally the focus of much debate. Amidst all of this heated discussion, there is plenty of rhetoric, hyperbole and statements that are simply not true. Here is my attempt to slay the four biggest myths about Alberta’s new carbon tax. […] More

Seven things I learned while confronting Albertan scepticism

Over the holidays, I flew home to Calgary to visit friends and family, enjoy the mountains, and… talk about carbon pricing. I stepped out of my echo chamber and spoke to dozens of Albertans who are, to say the least, unhappy with the new provincial levy. I honestly underestimated just […] More

With or without you: Renewable Portfolio Standards in the world of carbon pricing

In the fourth instalment of our blog series on the role of complementary climate policies, I ask: Can a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) work as a substitute for carbon pricing? What about as a complement to carbon pricing? I draw on examples from Nova Scotia and PEI to explore both […] More

A significant step forward for Canadian climate policy

Climate policy is difficult. Effective negotiations between various governments might be even harder. So, kudos to Canada’s First Ministers for making real progress on a seriously difficult issue. As of last Friday, we formally have a pan-Canadian framework on climate policy. Even better, the plan actually comes pretty close to […] More

Could Ontario and Quebec’s cap-and-trade get Trumped?

The election of Donald Trump has provoked deep concern in climate policy circles. Reince Priebus, Trump’s White House chief of staff, recently stated that Trump’s ‘default’ position is that climate science is “a bunch of bunk.” This raises critical questions about the future of climate policy in the U.S. as […] More

In the Zone: Stockholm’s congestion pricing system holds important lessons for Canada’s cities

Congestion pricing is gaining traction in Canadian cities. Following Mayor John Tory’s recommendation for tolls on two of Toronto’s major roads, let’s take this opportunity to look at congestion policies from around the world, with lessons and takeaways for Canada (drawing from our report on congestion pricing from last year). […] 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

Carbon Pricing Beside Trump’s America

It seems pretty likely at this point that a future President Trump isn’t going to implement a national carbon price in the United States. What does this mean for Canada? Does the result of last week’s election mean that we should scale back our ambition to price carbon? Unambiguously: No, […] More

Are policies that support Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) worth it?

This blog is the second in a series on the role of non-pricing climate policies. Can other policies substitute (i.e., be an alternative) for carbon pricing? Can they complement (i.e., work in addition) carbon pricing? In this blog, I consider policies that provide financial support for Carbon Capture and Storage […] More

Fishing for complements

Carbon pricing isn’t the only tool in the climate policy tool kit. Yet not all policies that reduce GHG emissions do so cost-effectively. Which other GHG policies might make economic sense? Can they make sense in addition to carbon pricing? Or even instead of carbon pricing? Let’s play “complement or […] More

Carbon Pricing and Innovation

“Innovation” is buzzy these days, with lots of smart people thinking and writing about the role of policy in driving innovation to improve productivity and economic growth. And yes, innovation is great. It lets us use inputs—like capital, labour, and resources—more efficiently. It’s especially important in our efforts to reduce […] More

Assessing our emerging pan-Canadian climate policy

by Commissioners Paul Boothe, Mel Cappe, Don Drummond, Glen Hodgson, Richard Lipsey, Nancy Olewiler, France St-Hilaire and Christopher Ragan For almost three years, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission has been actively engaged in discussions about carbon pricing across the country. We have spoken with many governments, opposition parties, business groups and environmental […] 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

Stop subsidizing biofuels

Carbon pricing is becoming a mainstream part of Canadian policy. Four provinces have or will soon have carbon prices, one more has made a commitment to do so, and the federal government is now promising to fill in the gaps. The emergence of a nation-wide carbon price signals that the […] 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

Self-driving cars: A techno-utopia or an eco-nightmare?

by Simon Altman Elon Musk recently announced that Tesla will have a fully autonomous car ready by 2020, and Tesla is not alone. As this technology moves from dream to reality, some have started to discuss the opportunities it will present, while others are stuck dwelling on the risks. In […] More

The Beef with Beef

Beef often gets a pretty hard time when it comes to its environmental impact. In this blog, I take a look at why that is, and what we could do about it. First things first Before we get into it, let’s begin with an important preamble: 1) Personally, I think […] More

Unpacking the WCI: Hangin’ tough

Over the past couple of months our summer blog series Unpacking the Western Climate Initiative has taken a look under the hood of California, Québec and Ontario’s integrated cap-and-trade system. In this final installment, we review what we’ve learned and take a look at some recent developments that have been […] More

Bonne Chance, Paul Lanoie

Ecofiscal would like to congratulate Paul Lanoie on his appointment to the position of Sustainable Development Commissioner for the province of Quebec. As of September 6, 2016, Paul will be monitoring the implementation of Quebec’s Sustainable Development Act. We would like to acknowledge and thank Paul for all his hard work […] 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

Unpacking the WCI: Backhanded complements?

As we’ve noted in our summer blog series, California has a cap-and-trade system. But it’s also got a low-carbon fuel standard. And a renewable electricity portfolio standard. And vehicle emissions performance standards. And a swath of other policies to reduce GHG emissions. In fact, the California Air and Resources Board […] More

TLDR: Comparing Stringency of Carbon Pricing Policies

We have a new report out this week on comparing the stringency of provincial carbon pricing policies. In case you don’t have time to read it all, this blog provides quick overview of the essentials. Be sure to check out the full report for (much) more detail. Comparing stringency is […] More

Unpacking the WCI: Balancing stability and flexibility

In the previous instalment of our summer blog series Unpacking the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), we took a look at the legal uncertainty facing the California cap-and-trade system, one of two key drivers of the recent undersubscribed allowance auctions. In this blog we’ll look at the second driver—permit oversupply—and why […] More

Summer daze: comparing carbon pricing policies

Summer in Canada: time to lounge by a lake, right? Well, not if you’re part of the federal-provincial working group on carbon pricing (or, for that matter, a dedicated Ecofiscal Commission researcher…). For carbon wonks, the arrival of summer this year means we’re well into a six-month process initiated at […] More

Unpacking the WCI: Storm on the horizon?

by Simon Altman In the first blog of our series Unpacking the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), we looked at the implications of Ontario and Quebec’s decision to link with California. In today’s blog we explore an ongoing lawsuit in California that could pose an existential threat to its cap-and-trade system, […] More

Unpacking the WCI: Thinking linking

Both Ontario and Québec have ambitious GHG reduction targets for 2030. In their effort to hit these targets both provinces have hitched their wagons to California and its integrated cap-and-trade system, the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). The stakes are high—as we’ve seen with the EU ETS system’s troubles over the […] 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

Q&A on BCAs: Border Carbon Adjustments

I’m getting lots of questions these days about “border carbon adjustments” (BCAs). After all, BCAs sit at the intersection of carbon policy and trade policy, and what wonk can resist that combination? So as we start to move toward broader carbon pricing policies in Canada, let’s take a closer look […] 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

The Way Forward and the Doug Purvis Prize

Ecofiscal’s first report on climate policy, The Way Forward, was just awarded the Doug Purvis prize by the Canadian Economics Association. Quite apart from being a strong vote of confidence in the quality of the research and policy prescriptions contained in the report, the prize was also personally meaningful for […] More

Q&A with Chris Ragan: It’s time to wean Canada off carbon

Why is it important for Canada to move away from a carbon-based economy? If we take seriously the science regarding the causes and consequences of climate change – and I certainly think we should – then the entire world will need to make a transition away from carbon-based fuels and […] More

A path to international carbon pricing?

It’s useful to remember that carbon pricing isn’t just a Canadian phenomenon. International momentum is growing as well. In this blog, I take a look at some of the outcomes of the international climate change negotiations held in Bonn last week, and the prospects for international carbon markets. Moving forward […] More

Alberta takes the lead with carbon pricing policy

by Bev Dahlby, Jim Dinning and Chris Ragan Last week, Alberta introduced legislation to enable its new policy for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. At the core of the policy is an economy-wide carbon price that will generate revenues to be recycled back into the economy. The bottom line, at least based […] More

The good news and the bad in Ontario’s new climate legislation

You may be surprised to learn this, but economists are not the same as “normal” people. The main difference relates to how the two groups think about markets and prices. Most people, including elected politicians, don’t think much about the workings of markets and prices. This is a serious problem […] 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

British Columbia’s carbon tax is an opportunity for Christy Clark

The British Columbia government is planning to announce the next phase of its carbon tax some time in June, and it is coming under plenty of pressure. Environmental groups want the carbon tax to keep rising so the province can achieve its aggressive target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Parts […] More

Making carbon pricing fair in rural and urban areas

In previous blogs, we’ve explored how carbon pricing is expected to affects households with different income-levels and how different revenue recycling options can address potential fairness issues for low-income households. In this last blog of the series, we address additional fairness issues such as the impact on rural and urban […] More

What share of carbon pricing revenues are needed to do no harm?

In our previous blog, we explored how carbon pricing is expected to affect households with different income-levels in different provinces. Here, we discuss how different revenue recycling options affect fairness for low-income households, and what share of provincial carbon pricing revenues would be needed to avoid unfairly burdening them. Revenue […] More

Household Fairness of Carbon Pricing

The Ecofiscal Commission recently released a research paper on provincial carbon pricing and household fairness to complement our broader report, Choose Wisely, which looks at how provinces could use carbon revenue. The research team’s next three blogs will lean on both reports to explore different dimensions of household fairness of […] More

Peter Nicholson on Recycling Revenue from Carbon Pricing in Nova Scotia

by Peter Nicholson On April 14th we held a live panel discussion: The Revenue Recycling Opportunity for Atlantic Canada. Peter Nicholson was one of our panellists. Here are his opening remarks. In Nova Scotia, the prevailing attitude toward carbon pricing lies somewhere between skeptical and outright hostile. So there is […] 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

Choosing Wisely: Ontario

In February, Ontario released the details of its planned cap-and-trade program. The program will launch in January 2017, eventually linking with Quebec and California’s systems in 2018. In the first year of operation, it is expected to raise $1.9 billion per year, given that allocations are being provided for free […] More

Choosing Wisely: British Columbia

B.C.’s carbon tax has been in place since 2008. Initially set at a low price of $10 per tonne, it has since risen to $30. The tax raised $1.21 billion in fiscal year 2013/14. The tax is revenue-neutral, with revenues used to lower corporate and personal income taxes. Yet there […] More

Choosing Wisely: Alberta

Following the recommendations by its Climate Change Review Panel, the Alberta government is overhauling its climate change policy. A central part of this plan is the implementation of a carbon tax in 2017. Starting at $20/tonne in 2017 and increasing the $30/tonne in 2018, the tax is expected to raise […] More

TLDR: Choose wisely when recycling revenue from carbon pricing

The Ecofiscal Commission’s new report takes a look at how provinces could use revenues generated by a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system. In case you don’t have time to read the report in full, here are the essentials. Provinces are moving forward with carbon pricing to reduce their greenhouse gas […] More

The case for free allocation of emission permits

by Mark Purdon, David Houle and Blake Shaffer Our next report will explore the challenges and opportunities with different approaches to recycling revenues from carbon pricing. To better understand the trade-offs associated with each revenue recycling option, we commissioned a set of six papers authored by some of Canada’s leading […] More

Recycling Carbon Pricing Revenues to Reduce Public Debt

by Jean-François Wen Our next report will explore the challenges and opportunities with different approaches to recycling revenues from carbon pricing. To better understand the trade-offs associated with each revenue recycling option, we commissioned a set of six papers authored by some of Canada’s leading policy thinkers. What are the […] 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

Carbon Pricing and the Case for (Green) Infrastructure

by Marc Lee Our next report will explore the challenges and opportunities with different approaches to recycling revenues from carbon pricing. To better understand the trade-offs associated with each revenue recycling option, we commissioned a set of six papers authored by some of Canada’s leading policy thinkers. What are the […] More

How to price carbon so that emissions go down and citizens don’t go crazy*

by PJ Partington and Vicky Sharpe Our next report will explore the challenges and opportunities with different approaches to recycling revenues from carbon pricing. To better understand the trade-offs associated with each revenue recycling option, we commissioned a set of six papers authored by some of Canada’s leading policy thinkers. […] More

We All Own the Air: Why a Carbon Fee and Dividend Makes Sense for Canada

by Lars Osberg Our next report will explore the challenges and opportunities with different approaches to recycling revenues from carbon pricing. To better understand the trade-offs associated with each revenue recycling option, we commissioned a set of six papers authored by some of Canada’s leading policy thinkers. What are the […] More

Case for Using Revenue from a Carbon Tax to Reduce Existing Taxes

by Ken McKenzie Our next report will explore the challenges and opportunities with different approaches to recycling revenues from carbon pricing. To better understand the trade-offs associated with each revenue recycling option, we commissioned a set of six papers authored by some of Canada’s leading policy thinkers. What are the […] More

Climate policy interactions: As usual, details matter

It is now become increasingly clear that the federal government wishes to see a carbon price in all parts of the country. While specific details will remain unclear in the near future, in the next 6 months working groups will study carbon pricing and other climate policies that will shape […] 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

Why Saskatchewan should join the carbon-pricing club

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall agrees that all provinces need to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Yet he argues that carbon prices should not be used because they would hobble an already weak economy. He also argues that a better approach is to invest in the development of low-emissions […] More

Federal mechanisms for carbon coordination

As part of our ongoing blog series, we are exploring some of the difficult questions around designing a coordinated provincial-federal carbon pricing strategy. As the Prime Minister and the Premiers head into meetings next week in Vancouver, it looks like one role of the federal government could be to establish […] More

The Federal Government and the Three Carbon Coordination Options

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. Previous blogs have explored the fundamental objectives and challenges of carbon coordination, the country’s GHG emission gap and the overall benefits of coordinating carbon pricing […] 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

In their own words: Stephen Huddart, Ecofiscal Funder

The following testimonial is from our 2015 Annual Report. At the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, we focus on the big-picture questions of systems change. How do we enhance Canada’s ability to address complex social, environmental and economic challenges? How do we build a more sustainable, resilient society? These conversations are […] More

In their own words: Nancy Olewiler, Ecofiscal Commissioner

The following testimonial is from our 2015 Annual Report. When I look around the room at an Ecofiscal Commission meeting, I see an amazing group of people. I see a former deputy minister of the environment chatting with the Conference Board of Canada’s chief economist. I see a former clerk […] More

Carbon Gaps: Emissions, Policy and Prices

We’re currently exploring some of the issues related to federal-provincial carbon coordination in a blog series, and the emissions gap is a key measure of the work at-hand. The first blog in the series outlined three primary objectives, and five of the largest inherent challenges. The logical next step is […] More

In their own words: Preston Manning, Ecofiscal Advisor

The following testimonial is from our 2015 Annual Report. I’m often asked how I reconcile conservative economic values with environmental interests. For me, there’s no inherent philosophical conflict. After all, “conservation” and “conservative” come from the same root. We need to find a way to move past the economy-versus-environment way […] More

Annual Report 2015: Letter from the Chair

As an economist, I believe that good policy is central to prosperity. That was the idea behind Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission. We would be economists first and foremost, providing sound policy advice on how strong economies and healthy environments are interdependent. It turned out that other people shared this belief. When […] More

The Many Pieces of Canada’s Federal-Provincial Climate Puzzle

Federal and provincial ministers will be meeting early in March to discuss how best to move forward with coherent policies aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Despite plenty of enthusiasm from the new federal government and a few provinces, the task ahead is daunting, and hard work will be required to […] 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

Outstanding questions on Ontario’s proposed QEW pilot project

In our recent blog on Ontario’s coming HOT lane pilot project, we congratulated Ontario on moving forward on congestion pricing policy. However, a few specific issues with the proposed Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) pilot project remain. First, using a monthly permit approach can limit the effectiveness of policy and increase […] More

Ontario’s Coming HOT Lane Pilot Project

Late last year, Ontario announced the details of two high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane projects as a means to improve traffic flow in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The Province will start by implementing a HOT lane—a hybrid of a tolled road and a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane—as a pilot project […] More

Emissions policy should focus on carbon pricing, not carbon targets

Now that Canadian policy-makers are back from the climate summit in Paris, there will be lots of talk about targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. The federal government has indicated that the previous government’s target – reducing emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 – is a lower […] More

Ecofiscal Submission: Ontario Cap-and-Trade Design Options

The Ecofiscal Commission firmly supports the advancement of the Ontario cap-and-trade program as a means to price carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effective and cost-effective manner. In November, the Government of Ontario released program design options for its incoming cap and trade system that will be linked […] More

Getting HOT Lanes Right Means Getting Everyone Onboard

By Kevin Vuong Now that we know when and where HOT lanes are coming, the next critical question is how do we bring GTHA commuters along for the ride? Earlier this week Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca announced that the Ontario government will be moving forward with a high-occupancy […] More

The Next #90Days is about Getting Carbon Pricing Right in Canada

On Saturday, at the conclusion of the Paris COP, the world achieved a historic agreement on how to go forward with global action on climate change. It includes, among its many terms, a commitment to keep warming well below 2 degrees with the aim of a 1.5 degree limit, safeguards […] More

Canada’s a Global Ambassador for Carbon Pricing. So What?

An interesting thing happened at the Paris Climate Summit this week. Six-heads of state joined together with the World Bank and the IMF to officially launch the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition and sound a global call for pricing carbon. Here’s the kicker: Canada was one of those six. Just to […] More

There and Back Again: Subnational, National, and International Climate Policy

by Dale Beugin, Research Director The road to Paris and the 2015 UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) seems to be increasingly crowded. It starts with the provinces. Ontario is working out the details of its cap-and-trade partnership with Quebec, and new recommendations are imminent from both Alberta’s and BC’s […] More

The way forward for BC

British Columbia’s carbon tax has been at the forefront of carbon pricing policy in Canada since 2008. But now that other provinces are catching up, what’s next for BC? The province’s Climate Leadership Team has been working on potential next steps in BC’s climate policy. In the run-up to the […] More

How does Ontario’s Cap and Trade Program Design Options consider competitiveness pressures?

Today, let’s talk about competitiveness pressures on industry under carbon pricing and how carbon pricing policy can be designed to address these concerns. And in particular, let’s take a look at how Ontario’s draft proposal for its cap-and-trade system considers these challenges. I’ll get (a little bit) into the weeds, […] 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

Statement: Road Back from Paris is Critical for Canadian Carbon Pricing Policies

Today, Monday November 23, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with First Ministers to discuss Canada’s climate change strategy one week before the Paris Climate Summit. This meeting comes one day after the unveiling of Alberta’s climate strategy, which includes an economy-wide carbon price of $30/tonne by 2018. Statement from Chris […] More

Carbon pricing can balance emissions reduction and competitiveness

In the run-up to the Paris climate meetings, several Canadian provinces are developing or improving their carbon pricing policies. They should be applauded for using market-based approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But businesses are nonetheless worried about how they will be affected, and this is too important an issue […] 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

Getting the Facts on Carbon Pricing and Business Competitiveness

By Chris Ragan, Chair, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission The Ecofiscal Commission’s first carbon pricing report, The Way Forward, made the case that provincial carbon pricing leadership is both a practical and effective way to make urgent climate policy strides. But different carbon prices raise valid concerns about business competitiveness. Today we’re […] More

Getting traffic moving in Montreal

On November 2nd, the Ecofiscal Commission launched its latest report We Can’t Get There from Here: Why Pricing Congestion is Critical to Beating It. The report explains how we can't simply build our way out of congestion; we also need to consider incentives. The report's central recommendation is that Canada's […] More

Think before you toll

On November 2nd, we released our congestion pricing report We Can’t Get There from Here: Why Pricing Congestion is Critical to Beating It. Guest blogger Jean-François Barsoum, Senior Managing Consultant, Smarter Cities, Water and Transportation, Innovation, Research & Development at IBM, gives us his opinion on congestion charging. by Jean-François […] More

All Fired Up about Congestion Pricing

The following piece, by well-known and well-read Toronto blogger Cityslikr, was originally published on All Fired Up in the Big Smoke: "a blog about living in the city. More specifically, a blog about the politics of living in a city." While we don't agree with all of the author's critiques, […] 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

How to beat traffic in Calgary?

Last week, the Ecofiscal Commission launched its latest report We Can’t Get There from Here: Why Pricing Congestion is Critical to Beating It. The report explains how we can't simply build our way out of congestion, we also need to consider incentives. The report's central recommendation is that Canada's four […] More

Traffic, and its Solution, is All About People

By Kevin Vuong On November 3rd, I joined a panel of experts in Toronto to talk about Pricing Congestion in the GTHA. If there is one take away from that discussion, it’s this: the success of congestion pricing hinges on widespread public understanding and acceptance. As individuals engaging in this […] More

Let’s Talk About How to Get Metro Van Moving

This week, the Ecofiscal Commission launched its latest report We Can’t Get There from Here: Why Pricing Congestion is Critical to Beating It. The report explains how we can't simply build our way out of  congestion, we also need to consider incentives.  The report's central recommendation is that Canada's four […] More

Congestion pricing can incentivize drivers to reduce traffic

Canadians know that traffic congestion is terrible and getting worse every year. We also know that governments spend a lot of our money on new transportation investments – but somehow the traffic jams keep getting bigger. If we are to really clear up our clogged freeways, we need to consider […] More

TLDR: The low-down on our latest report about congestion pricing

The Ecofiscal Commission’s latest report makes the case for implementing congestion pricing pilot projects in Canadian cities. In case you don’t have time to read the report, here are the findings in a nutshell. The new report, We Can’t Get There from Here: Why Pricing Traffic Congestion Is Critical to […] More

Getting Traffic Moving in Canada’s Biggest City

Yesterday, the Ecofiscal Commission launched its latest report We Can’t Get There from Here: Why Pricing Congestion is Critical to Beating It. The report explains how we can't simply build our way out of  congestion, we also need to consider incentives.  The report's central recommendation is that Canada's four largest […] More

The Big Apple Plans to Take A Bite Out of Congestion

Four things we can learn from the Move NY Fair Plan Reducing gridlock and addressing challenges in funding transportation are high on the agenda of many cities. Congestion reducing fees—for example, through HOT lanes and bridge tolls—are often missing from the toolkit, though a key piece of the puzzle. New […] More

Five ways congestion pricing tackles traffic

On November 2nd, we’re bringing together international transportation experts for our first Google Hangout: How the World Beats Traffic. A big part of the answer is congestion pricing. Still a new idea in Canada, congestion pricing has been used by a number of cities across the globe to influence people’s […] More

It’s Time We Talked About the Human Costs of Congestion

by Kevin Vuong When the cost of congestion is discussed, the emphasis has been on the economic cost and the loss of productivity because, quite frankly, it’s easier to quantify. Yes, congestion hinders mobility in the physical sense of getting from one place to another, and there has been extensive […] 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

Why carbon pricing will help to secure Alberta’s economic future

As Alberta’s new government assembles its troops and redesigns its policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the need for greater environmental protection will be an obvious rallying cry. But Premier Rachel Notley should also be sure to make the case that pricing carbon emissions is very much in Alberta’s economic […] More

Four Things You Should Know about Carbon Offsets

Last week, Ontario and Quebec announced that they’d be collaborating on a carbon offset system as part of their respective cap-and-trade policies. What’s an offset, you ask? And what are the implications of this provincial tag-team, you wonder? As usual, the Ecofiscal blog has you covered. 1. What a Carbon […] More

Don’t Hate the Driver, Hate the Traffic

We take transportation policies personally, and we should. But when it comes to fighting congestion, instead of playing the blame game we need to change the game completely. I have a confession to make: I drive a car. Not all the time. But sometimes. Even though I live five minutes […] More

The Problems We’re Not Solving by Banning Bottled Water

A four-part Ecofiscal blog series on Medium by Jessie Sitnick and Dale Beugin On college campuses, in corporate boardrooms, and city halls people are asking “how do we solve a problem like bottled water?” But what if we’re all asking the wrong first question? Not, how do we solve the problem, but rather, […] More

How to Stop Turning Valuable Clean Water into Costly Stormwater

Canada’s infrastructure deficit continues to make headlines in the country. The requirement to maintain and build new infrastructure offers an opportunity to think about the interplay between the environmental impacts of our infrastructure, the means by which we pay for these infrastructure and their environmental costs (sounds pretty ecofiscal to […] More

HOV and HOT Lanes: What’s the Difference?

High occupancy vehicle (HOV) and high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes are in the news. A temporary network of HOV lanes was in place in the Toronto area during the recent Pan Am and Parapan Am Games (people were divided about this). And Ontario recently announced that it is moving forward […] More

Alberta looks for a way forward on carbon

We’ve written before about why Alberta should move forward with carbon pricing policy, but also take the time to get design details right. So far, so good. Having already appointed economist Dr. Andrew Leach to chair an advisory panel, last Friday the province released its Climate Leadership Discussion document, kicking-off […] More

Smooth transition needed for carbon pricing and free trade

Even if we weren’t in the middle of a federal election campaign, there would be several important policy issues being discussed this summer. One of the big ones is Canada’s part in the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade agreement with several Pacific Rim countries. Another is the development […] More

Drive-and-Dash on the Gas Tax: Oregon’s Program

Oregon just started a third, voluntary trial of a system that could fundamentally change the way that roads are funded in the State. Under the program, instead of paying per gallon of fuel via the gas tax, drivers pay per mile—and people are signing up. But pricing driving more directly […] More

Similarities and Differences between Carbon Tax and Cap-and-Trade Systems

The following blog was originally published on the Network for Business Sustainability blog, on August 10, 2015. Know What to Expect from Cap-and-Trade or a Carbon Tax The carbon conversation is shifting. It’s no longer about whether to put a price on carbon; it is about how to do it. […] More

4 Things You Should Know About HOT Lanes

More choice, less traffic. Let’s have a real conversation about how HOT lanes work and who benefits. Last week, Kathleen Wynne reiterated that HOT lanes (High Occupancy Toll lanes) are on the province’s agenda. She didn’t say where and she didn’t say when, but she did say that planning is […] 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

Know Thy Water: The First Commandment of Water Pricing

This week Metro Vancouver announced Stage 3 water restrictions banning the use of lawn sprinklers as reservoirs sit below 73%. As BC’s drought saga continues, Canadians are getting a first-hand lesson in the value of water. But do we really understand it—where our water comes from and the costs of […] 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

Does the World Need More Growth (read: Technology)?

The Ecofiscal Commission believes that our economies can continue to grow, even as we improve the environment by polluting less and using our natural resources more efficiently. We recognize that this position rubs up against a live and interesting debate often characterized as “growth vs no growth”. While the Ecofiscal […] More

Toronto Climate Summit: Local to Global Carbon Pricing

This week, climate policy folks from across North and South America are converging on Toronto. A major focal point of discussion will be the role of subnational carbon pricing policy. Ecofiscal has put quite a lot of thought into the idea that provincial carbon pricing might be practical way forward […] More

Growth in the Developed Countries: Do we need it and can we sustain it?

The Ecofiscal Commission believes that our economies can continue to grow, even as we improve the environment by polluting less and using our natural resources more efficiently. We recognize that this position rubs up against a live and interesting debate often characterized as "growth vs no growth". While the Ecofiscal […] More

Water Pricing: Hard Lessons from Cali

Never Waste a Good Crisis: What Can We Learn from California? [caption id="attachment_4060" align="alignleft" width="222"] How can water pricing help us use less and conserve more?[/caption] California’s extreme drought continues to make headlines. No doubt Canada will feel the ripple effects, for example, through potential shocks in our commodity markets. […] More

Damn This Traffic Jam: Why Economists Hate Congestion Too

Hate traffic? You’re not alone. Economists hate it too and probably for all the same reasons you do. It costs all of us the one thing we can never get back: time. On a personal level, that’s the gut-wrenching feeling of walking in fifteen minutes late to your 9am meeting […] More

Competing in a cap-and-trade environment

Panel discusses how Ontario's new system will create both opportunities and challenges The following article summarizing the Ecofiscal Commissions' event with the Martin Prosperity Institute on cap-and-trade was first published by the REMI Network. On April 13, the Ontario government announced its commitment to a cap-and-trade system to reduce the […] More

The Wonk’s Tale: in which I run a cap-and-trade system

With Ontario joining Quebec and California in the Western Climate Initiative, cap-and-trade is all the talk these days. In principle, we know that it can work just as well as a carbon tax, if designed and implemented well. But cap-and-trade is clearly more complex and a little abstract. And as […] More

Video blog: Alberta Carbon Pricing featuring Steve Williams, Chris Ragan, and Jim Dinning

On Friday, May 22, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission and Suncor co-hosted a panel discussion in Calgary, Alberta: In This Together—Carbon Pricing and Alberta’s Family Business. What follows are videos of the event, including the keynote address by Steve Williams, President and CEO of Suncor Energy, the presentation by Chris Ragan, Chair […] More

Serious consideration of carbon pricing is warranted in every province

On Friday, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission and the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council  co-hosted a panel discussion in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Subject: The Business of Carbon Pricing in Atlantic Canada. The following blog highlights some of Chris Ragan’s remarks and the Q&A that followed the panel discussion, which featured David Wheeler, […] More

Nova Scotia in carbon-pricing caboose

This expert opinion piece on carbon pricing in Nova Scotia by Elizabeth Beale and Chris Ragan originally appeared in the Chronicle Herald on June 2, 2015. You don’t need to explain the connection between the economy and the environment to a Nova Scotian. Where livelihoods have long been affected by […] More

Real Talk on Competitiveness and Cap-and-Trade: Expert Panel Recap

On Wednesday, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission and the Martin Prosperity Institute co-hosted a panel discussion at the Rotman School of Management. The Subject: The Competitiveness Question—Business opportunities and challenges in a cap-and-trade environment. What happens when you ask cap-and-trade experts from California, Massachusetts and Quebec to discuss Ontario’s upcoming cap-and-trade system? […] More

Way Forward for Ontario: Design Principles for Ontario’s New Cap-and-Trade System

Join the live webcast of The Competitiveness Question: Business opportunities and challenges in a cap-and-trade environment tonight, June 3rd, at 5pm EDT. [button text="Watch the Live Webcast" link="http://apps.rotman.utoronto.ca/MediasiteVideoLink?Rid=56fc4b4a6c6849d689ff1cc5640135cf1d" style="primary" size="lg" target="_self" icon="none"] Research Brief Executive Summary Over the next year, Ontario will design and implement a cap-and-trade system for reducing […] More

Climate “Lovefest” in Calgary? Alberta’s New Carbon Pricing Conversation

Last week, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission and Suncor co-hosted a panel discussion in the heart of downtown Calgary. The Subject: In This Together—Carbon Pricing and Alberta’s Family Business. What happens when you ask oil and gas executives, business and community leaders, economists, and environmentalists to come together to talk about the […] More

Can We Tackle Traffic Congestion & Climate Change with the Same Policy? Some Grist for the Mill

On this #WonkWednesday we explore the weird policy space between congestion pricing and carbon pricing. This recent Grist article by Ben Adler poses the important question: how best do we align our transportation policies with our climate goals? In doing so, Adler debates the merits of potential distance-based road charging […] More

Keynote address by Steve Williams, President and CEO of Suncor at In This Together

Keynote address by Steve Williams, President and CEO of Suncor Energy, at In This Together: Carbon Pricing and Alberta’s Family Business, in Calgary, Alberta on May 22, 2015. Read the related opinion editorial in the Calgary Herald from May 21, 2015 Good morning everyone and welcome.It’s great to see so […] More

Improved carbon pricing could make socially-conscious investing easier

This Report on Business Commentary piece on social responsible investing by Chris Ragan originally appeared in the Globe and Mail on May 18, 2015. Interest in “socially responsible” investing is growing quickly, and it’s often driven by concerns over climate change. The movement to divest from fossil-fuel companies is sweeping […] More

Market Access, Social License or Pipedreams? Would stronger climate change policy in Alberta change the game?

Never before has so much public attention focused on the evolution of Alberta’s climate policy. In this 3-part video blog series, Chris Ragan tackles some of the stickiest questions we’re often asked about the relationship between carbon pricing and the oil and gas sector, Alberta’s “family business.” In the lead […] More

No Need to Choose Between a Carbon Price and the Oil Patch

Happy #WonkWednesday! The piece below was originally published in the May 2015 issue of Alberta Oil Magazine. Wonkier readers also should not miss Andrew Leach’s more in-depth economic analysis of the impact of greenhouse gas regulations on oil sands development. Yes, there’s a chart. Many people concerned about climate change […] More

How carbon pricing can spur innovation & cleaner economic growth

By Richard Lipsey Humans are inventive creatures. Throughout history, whenever we’re presented with a challenge, we’ve invented our way around it. Carbon pricing is the perfect example of a business challenge. When we put a tax on fossil fuels or create a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, it increases the […] More

Hurt or Help? Carbon Pricing and the Global Competitiveness of Canadian Oil

Never before has so much public attention focused on the evolution of Alberta’s climate policy. In this 3-part video blog series, Chris Ragan tackles some of the stickiest questions we’re often asked about the relationship between carbon pricing and the oil and gas sector, Alberta’s “family business.” In the lead […] More

Carbon tax versus cap-and-trade: what’s the difference? (Hint: it’s smaller than you think)

By Paul Lanoie When we talk about pricing carbon, there are two main possibilities. One option is creating a carbon tax, as B.C., Denmark and Sweden have done. The other option is to create a cap-and-trade system. This is the route Quebec has taken, along with California, Korea and parts […] More

What is the impact of a carbon price on the oil and gas sector?

Never before has so much public attention focused on the evolution of Alberta’s climate policy. In this 3-part video blog series, Chris Ragan tackles some of the stickiest questions we’re often asked about the relationship between carbon pricing and the oil and gas sector, Alberta’s “family business.” In the lead […] More

Advancing the climate debate in Canada

The following is a cross-posted blog from cigionline.org by Erin Baxter, Public Affairs Coordinator and Kevin Dias, Communications Specialist. We can have our cake and eat it too, said Chris Ragan, Canadian economist and chair of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission. Speaking at CIGI as part of the Signature Lecture Series, Ragan […] More

Carbon pricing revenue: Let me count the ways

Every so often, the research team here at Ecofiscal will venture out into the blogosphere. Sometimes, we’ll share additional analysis that didn’t quite make it to a report. Sometimes, we’ll elaborate on more technical ideas or data that the main reports consider only briefly. And sometimes, we’ll just take the […] More

Give it to me straight: does a carbon tax hit lower-income families harder?

by Mel Cappe It’s a good question: if we tax carbon, will lower-income Canadians end up paying proportionately more than their wealthier neighbours? Let’s start by looking at the objective of a carbon tax. What we’re trying to do is make sure people consider the real cost of using fossil […] More

Harnessing Market Mechanisms for Environmental Conservation in the Oil Industry

By Preston Manning The following are excerpts from remarks made by Preston Manning to the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association (NEIA) on April 27th, 2015 in St. John’s. http://ecofiscal.ca/carbon-pricing/ Recently I was asked to be one of a number of advisors to what is called the Ecofiscal Commission – […] More

Lament Not for Canadian Climate Progress

A couple weeks ago, UBC professor George Hoberg took a thoughtful look at our recent Ecofiscal report in his blog. Professor Hoberg raised some important issues about the risks of a fragmented, provincial approach to carbon pricing in Canada. And you know what? We agree with him in some ways. […] More

Four things Ontario’s cap-and-trade plan must get right

This Globe Debate piece about Ontario's forthcoming cap-and-trade system by Chris Ragan and Paul Boothe originally appeared in the Globe and Mail on April 16, 2015. This week, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne made a major announcement in the battle against climate change: Ontario will join Quebec and California in a […] More

Gimme Cover! When it comes to Carbon Policy, Broader Coverage is Better

by Vincent Thivierge and Dale Beugin Every so often, the research team here at Ecofiscal will venture out into the blogosphere. Sometimes, we’ll share additional analysis that didn’t quite make it to a report. Sometimes, we’ll elaborate on more technical ideas or data that the main reports consider only briefly. […] More

5 thoughtful responses to The Way Forward from Canadian experts

This is a fascinating moment to be working on climate policy in Canada. The conversation provincially and nationally has picked up significant momentum over the past few weeks, and the Ecofiscal Commission was able to play its own small part in shaping that discussion with the launch of The Way […] More

Carbon pricing in Canada: What works, what doesn’t and what we can learn from it

To judge the success of different carbon pricing strategies, Canadians don’t need to look far. In 2007, Alberta implemented its Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER), a flexible performance standard, which has elements of both a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system. B.C. has had a carbon tax since 2008, and […] More

When tackling climate change, don’t wait for policy perfection

The following was orginally published in Maclean's on April 15, 2015. Soon three-quarters of Canadians will live in provinces that put a price on carbon. It’s time to move forward with smart carbon pricing policy in the rest The scientific consensus is clear: we have to substantially reduce our carbon […] More

Storify of our 1st Tweet Chat on Carbon Pricing with Chris Ragan

What follows is the Twitter summary of our first Tweet Chat event held on Thursday April 16th with our Chair, Chris Ragan. The topic was carbon pricing, following our report release. You can view all the tweets at twchat.com/hashtag/Ecofiscal [View the story "TweetChat on Carbon Pricing with Chris Ragan" on […] More

Making the Grade on Carbon Pricing and the Economy

As Economics 101 students gear up for their final exams, Canadian policy makers are working to pass a real-life economics test. Their challenge: how to reconcile both environmental and economic imperatives, particularly in the face of rising greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s one question a number of those decision-makers are puzzling: […] More

Stringency: How Strong is Your Carbon Policy? (Do the Math)

Every so often, the research team here at Ecofiscal will venture out into the blogosphere. Sometimes, we’ll share additional analysis that didn’t quite make it to a report. Sometimes, we’ll elaborate on more technical ideas or data that the main reports consider only briefly. And sometimes, we’ll just take the […] More

Act Now or Pay a Lot More Later: The Need for Urgent Action

Our climate is changing and the impacts on our economy and wellbeing are large and growing more so every day. Strong policy measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are needed by all countries say world leaders, the International Energy Agency, United Nations, World Bank, thousands of scientists, and Canada’s Ecofiscal […] More

Opinion: Quebec’s carbon pricing system could be a model for other provinces

This oped on Quebec's carbon pricing system by Jean Charest and Chris Ragan originally appeared in the Montreal Gazette on April 8, 2015. In poll after poll, Quebecers rate the highest in Canada in their understanding of climate change and their support for action to address it. We take pride […] More

PRESS RELEASE: Economic policy experts available for comment on Ontario’s cap-and-trade announcement

Toronto, April 13, 2015 —Economists from Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission are available to provide insight into the economic and environmental context of Ontario’s newly announced cap-and-trade commitment, and the factors that may determine its effectiveness as a carbon-pricing policy. Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission is an independent group of leading economists from across […] More

Leave carbon pricing to the provinces

This Full Comment piece by Glen Hodgson originally appeared in the National Post on April 7, 2015. Carbon pricing is the most efficient way to fight climate change, and the provinces are best placed to apply it — at surprisingly low cost to business. Today, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission is releasing a […] More

Storify of our Toronto carbon pricing event

What follows is the Twitter summary of our event on Wednesday. If you weren't able to make it, you can watch the webcast. [View the story "The Business of Carbon Pricing in Ontario" on Storify] More

How You Do that Voodoo: Modelling carbon policy

Every so often, the research team here at Ecofiscal will venture out into the blogosphere. Sometimes, we’ll share additional analysis that didn’t quite make it to a report. Sometimes, we’ll elaborate on more technical ideas or data that the main reports consider only briefly. And sometimes, we’ll just take the […] More

Carbon pricing with a practical Canadian twist

This Report on Business Commentary piece by Chris Ragan originally appeared in the Globe and Mail on April 7, 2015. From Alberta to Nova Scotia, and especially in Ontario, spring has ushered in fresh discussions about climate policy. On Tuesday, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission (which I chair) released a new report, […] More

The inside scoop on our new report

The question is not if Canada needs to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but rather when and how. The answer is now—through provincial carbon pricing. You can almost hear it. The loud crack of a middle ground erupting, cutting through the din of Canada’s polarized economy-versus-environment debate on climate change. What’s brought it to the surface? A broadening agreement […] More

Can pricing pollution really be good for the economy?

We asked a bunch of Canada's top economists "Can pricing pollution really be good for the economy?" Here's what they had to say. The answer might surprise you! More

Annette Verschuren on carbon pricing, jobs and making Canada a progressive energy leader

The Ecofiscal Commission recently welcomed Annette Verschuren to its Advisory Board. We sat down for an interview with her. Your latest venture is NRSTor — a company that focuses on renewable-energy storage. Is it fair to say that you believe green energy has a role to play in Canada’s future? […] More

Can incentives protect Canada’s clean water?

Clean water is a vital, valuable resource for Canada. We drink it. We grow food with it. We generate power using it. We use it as an input to industry, from manufacturing to oil and gas production. We swim, splash, and paddle our canoes in it. And clean water isn’t […] More

Aligning Aspirations: An Ecofiscal Approach to the GHG Challenge

On Wednesday, March 11th, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission held an event in Edmonton with the Canada West Foundation. Below is Chris Ragan’s speech. Thank you very much Trevor, and thanks also to the Canada West Foundation, which has been an invaluable partner in bringing this event together. As Trevor mentioned, the […] More

Storify of our Edmonton event on addressing GHG emissions

[View the story "Aligning Aspirations: An Ecofiscal Approach to the GHG Challenge" on Storify] More

There are no ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ in climate change

This Report on Business Insight piece by Chris Ragan originally appeared in the Globe and Mail on March 10, 2015. Last week, The Globe and Mail released the results of a new survey showing that 71 per cent of Canadians support new taxes on businesses that emit greenhouse gases (GHG). […] More

Boldly reimagining climate policy

This oped by Trevor McLeod originally appeared in the Edmonton Journal on March 11, 2015. This year, international and domestic timetables will provide a real opportunity to reimagine environmental and economic policy in Canada under the leadership of the provinces. As they plan their moves, they would do well to […] More

Carbon Pricing: Ontario’s set the table. Are we ready to tuck in?

From the downtown Toronto Y to the Sudbury Steelworkers Hall to the Kitchener Library – Ontarians are now going to be talking about carbon pricing. True, the Ontario Government’s Climate Change Discussion Paper offers a broad menu of food for thought on the direction of climate policy in the province. […] More

Building Sustainable Cities in Quebec: Ecofiscal opportunities for municipalities in the 21st century

On Tuesday, January 27th, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission held an event at the Faculty Club in Montreal with SWITCH: L'Alliance pour une économie verte au Québec. Below is Chris Ragan’s speech. Merci beaucoup Monsieur Simard. Bonjour à tous, et bienvenue a l’université McGill—ma maison intellectuelle. I’m so looking forward to today’s […] More

5 Questions for Richard Lipsey: putting the market to work for the environment

“If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three.” So said Winston Churchill. So what happens when you put 12 leading economists in a room and ask them to focus on one of the […] More

Tossing it out of sight, out of mind

The following is the waste excerpt from The Policy Opportunity of Our Generation: Ecofiscal Reform in Canada’s Provinces and Cities, published in Public Sector Digest, February 2015, and made available online January 15th. This is the final of a four-part blog series that highlights how ecofiscal policies can help cities […] More

6 questions for France St-Hilaire: On prosperity, mining waste, and seizing the moment to spark discussion

“If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three.” So said Winston Churchill. So what happens when you put 12 leading economists in a room and ask them to focus on one of the […] More

Fighting traffic with congestion pricing

The following is an excerpt from The Policy Opportunity of Our Generation: Ecofiscal Reform in Canada’s Provinces and Cities, published in Public Sector Digest, February 2015, and made available online January 15th. This is the third of a four-part blog series that highlights how ecofiscal policies can help cities and […] More

6 Questions for Paul Boothe: how ecofiscal measures spur innovation

“If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three.” So said Winston Churchill. So what happens when you put 12 leading economists in a room and ask them to focus on one of the […] More

Conserving water in a thirsty world

The following is an excerpt from The Policy Opportunity of Our Generation: Ecofiscal Reform in Canada’s Provinces and Cities, published in Public Sector Digest, February 2015, and made available online January 15th. This is the second of a four-part blog series that highlights how ecofiscal policies can help cities and […] More

6 Questions for Mel Cappe: on setting agendas, showing leadership and seizing opportunities

“If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three.” So said Winston Churchill. So what happens when you put 12 leading economists in a room and ask them to focus on one of the […] More

Provinces and cities need new fiscal tools to align economic and environmental ambitions

The following is an excerpt from The Policy Opportunity of Our Generation: Ecofiscal Reform in Canada’s Provinces and Cities, published in Public Sector Digest, February 2015, and made available online January 15th. This is the first of a four-part blog series that highlights how ecofiscal policies can help cities and […] More

6 Questions for Paul Lanoie: on untapped opportunities, ecofiscal pricing and how Canada compares

“If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three.” So said Winston Churchill. So what happens when you put 12 leading economists in a room and ask them to focus on one of the […] More

6 Questions for Bev Dahlby: why pricing pollutants works better than regulations, tax breaks or subsidies

“If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three.” So said Winston Churchill. So what happens when you put 12 leading economists in a room and ask them to focus on one of the […] More

Canada can do better

This piece originally appeared in the January 2015 edition of Policy Options. Canadians enjoy an enviable standard of living, yet we can do even better. Putting ecofiscal policies in place are key to Canada improving its management of natural assets and ensuring sustained prosperity. Measurement is crucial for policy-makers: it […] More

The sensible middle in the climate change debate

This Economy Lab, Report on Business piece by Chris Ragan originally appeared in the Globe and Mail on December 30, 2014 An overwhelming scientific consensus holds that the rising atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases is changing the global climate and presenting humanity with enormous challenges. This consensus also holds that […] More

6 Questions for Elizabeth Beale: on energy, innovation and ecofiscal opportunities in Atlantic Canada

“If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three.” So said Winston Churchill. So what happens when you put 12 leading economists in a room and ask them to focus on one of the […] More

6 Questions for Glen Hodgson: on doing research, pricing carbon and giving the business sector the clarity it needs

“If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three.” So said Winston Churchill. So what happens when you put 12 leading economists in a room and ask them to focus on one of the […] More

5 Questions for Don Drummond: on carrots, sticks and creating a critical mass of consensus

“If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three.” So said Winston Churchill. So what happens when you put 12 leading economists in a room and ask them to focus on one of the […] More

Is Green (Tech) the new Black(berry)? Environmental Goods and Canada’s Competitiveness

by Richard Lipsey and Céline Bak What will it take to remain competitive in a rapidly changing global economy? There are likely many answers to that question, but one is certain: innovation. It is a key factor of success in the world’s most competitive economies. This is a challenge for […] More

This is a debate worth having: A response to Andrew Jackson

Earlier this week, Andrew Jackson, senior policy advisor to the Broadbent Institute, wrote a thoughtful and constructively critical analysis of the Ecofiscal Commission’s first report. My first response is: thank you, Andrew. Jackson’s piece epitomizes the much-needed evolution of the debate around climate policy in Canada. It moves us squarely […] More

Polluter Pay, Not Tax Cuts

Check out Andrew Jackson’s full article and Chris Ragan’s response. Progressives will welcome the launch of the Commission, which has put polluter pay squarely at the heart of the policy agenda, and may break a taboo when it comes to talking about pricing carbon. But the first discussion paper shows […] More

Chris Ragan on ‘ecofiscal’ policies for Canada

This piece by Chris Chipello originally appeared in The McGill Reporter on December 5, 2014 Economics Prof. Christopher Ragan made headlines across the country last month with the launch of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, an independent group of 12 policy-savvy economists determined to promote fiscal changes that will benefit both the […] More

5 Questions for Nancy Olewiler: carbon, water, traffic and the cantankerousness of economists

“If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three.” So said Winston Churchill. So what happens when you put 12 leading economists in a room and ask them to focus on one of the […] More

Green Growth vs. No Growth: Not Which, but When

For deeper analysis and references supporting the perspective expressed in this blog, see the full paper. Music fans divide the world into two camps: Elvis vs. Beatles. Coffee drinkers: Starbucks vs. Tim Hortons. People concerned about climate change, and its implications for our current economies, also divide themselves into distinctive, […] More

Mike Harcourt “Sustainability Fanatic” says Cities are Where the Rubber hits the Road

When it comes to facing the twin pressures of economic health and environmental sustainability, our cities are where the rubber hits the road. Few people know this better than Mike Harcourt, self-described “sustainability fanatic” and the former Mayor of Vancouver and Premier of British Columbia. As Mike notes, the majority […] More

Pricing pollution is the right solution

This oped by Annette Verschuren and Chris Ragan originally appeared in the Chronicle Herald on November 21, 2014. Politics, religion, and taxes rarely inspire polite and measured conversation around the dinner table. Yet following the release of Laurel Broten’s fiscal review, taxes are the hot topic in many Nova Scotia […] More

Charest and Ragan: ‘Ecofiscal’ policies adjust market forces for the sake of the environment

This oped by Jean Charest and Chris Ragan originally appeared in the Montreal Gazette on November 10, 2014 Almost exactly a year ago, the governments of Quebec and California announced an unprecedented North American partnership to link their carbon markets, as part of the Western Climate Initiative. Since then, we […] More

Preston Manning: A project for all Canadians

When I first started talking to people about the launch of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, someone asked me a tough question: Who is the villain in this story? It took me off-guard at first. But then I realized, the answer isn’t a “who,” it’s a “what.” And that “what” is a […] More

Mintz and Williams: Continuing Canada’s Tradition of Smart Fiscal Policy

This oped by Jack Mintz and Steven Williams originally appeared in the Calgary Herald on November 4, 2014 As the world becomes increasingly open to policies addressing economic growth, innovation and environmental quality, increased attention has been paid to what might be called “ecofiscal” policies: levies used to reduce environmental […] More

The Next Great Policy Opportunity of Our Generation

On Tuesday, November 4th, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission held its launch at the Design Exchange, on the old trading floor, in downtown Toronto. Below is Chris Ragan’s inaugural speech. You can watch the full event, including remarks from Jean Charest, Preston Manning, Michael Harcourt and Jack Mintz here. My name is […] More

Ecofiscal so simple a 7-year-old can understand it

What The Lorax can teach us about pricing pollution Admission: I am not an economist. However, I have been given the tremendous opportunity to work with a dozen of Canada’s leading economic-policy experts to help launch and communicate the work of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission. Having spent the past months immersing […] More

TLDR: Research from our First Report in a Nutshell

The Ecofiscal Commission’s first report makes the case for implementing ecofiscal policies in Canada. In case you don’t have time to read the full report, this blog distills the essentials. Our overall conclusion is simple: Smart environmental policy makes economic sense for Canada. In short, the benefits of such policies […] More

Economic and Environmental Prosperity? Yes. We Can Have Both.

The existing national discussion surrounding Canada’s economy and environment assumes a fork in the road ahead. One path leads to good jobs and profitable businesses; the other to a clean environment and sustainable natural resources. No one really wants to choose between those futures, for themselves or their children. Like a […] More


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