Chris Ragan, Author at Canada's Ecofiscal Commission

About: Chris Ragan

Chris Ragan

Chair, Canada's Ecofiscal Commission


Recent Posts by Chris Ragan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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