Simon Fraser University School of Resource and Environmental Management professor Mark Jaccard.

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SFU researchers tackle environment policy with report on carbon tax alternatives

September 20, 2016
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On Sunday, September 18, Catherine McKenna, federal Environment Minister, announced the federal government will impose carbon pricing, such as a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, on provinces with no regulations to curb Canada’s emissions.

But a new report from Mark Jaccard, a Simon Fraser University School of Resource and Environmental Management professor, and research associates Mikela Hein and Tiffany Vass warns the federal government to look to alternative environmental policies instead of implementing an increasing carbon tax.

The report Is Win-Win Possible? Can Canada’s Government Achieve Its Paris Commitment . . .  and Get Re-elected? details how flexible regulations would produce about the same outcome as a steadily rising carbon tax without the political backlash.

“Flexible regulations are not as economically efficient as carbon pricing but evidence from California and some Canadian provinces suggests that it will meet less political resistance,” says Jaccard.

The 30-page report outlines viable policies for the federal government to meet its commitment of the Paris Agreement and to rapidly reduce national greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

“After so many years of ineffective and failed climate policy, we need to be honest about this,” says Jaccard. “If designed properly, the regulations will not have a great efficiency cost.”

Jaccard says a national carbon price would start at B.C.’s current rate of $30 and would need to rise by $15 per year, reaching $200 by 2030, to achieve the Paris Agreement goals.

“Neither the provinces nor the federal government will implement such a price,” he says.

British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec currently have carbon-pricing programs such as a tax or cap-and-trade emissions limiting systems.

Jaccard and his research associates have been producing climate policy analyses for 30 years for governments and interest groups at the international, federal, provincial and municipal levels. Jaccard has served as a climate policy expert on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Global Energy Assessment, Canada’s National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, and the BC Climate Action Team.