Monday, June 20, 2016

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Andrew Leach's after-the-fact addendum to his review of Alberta's climate change policy offers an important reminder as to the costs of inaction on climate change - and the message is one which applies equally to other jurisdictions which are seen as climate laggards:
Our emissions do not simply come from our large industries—almost everything else we do has greenhouse gas emissions impacts, whether it’s driving our cars and trucks, heating our homes, or purchasing goods delivered here by plane, truck or train. Reducing emissions in Alberta will not be easy—we don’t have a magic wand, and if cost-effective, lower-emissions substitutes were available in all cases today, we wouldn’t be facing this problem. But, not reducing emissions in Alberta is also potentially very costly. We’ve already seen policies and actions aimed at our resource sector whether through the rejection of pipelines, the application of low carbon fuel standards, or challenges to companies investing here from their shareholders or from sustainable investors. If Alberta chooses not to act, those costs won’t go away. And, we’re part of a federation, and our federation has committed to an ambitious target to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions. There will be costs if Alberta is not a constructive partner in those efforts—continued market access challenges or unfavourable policy design. Those costs may be difficult to quantify, but that doesn’t mean they’re not real. Finally, of course, we know that emissions impose costs on others around the world—if we use the most recent estimates, we are each imposing on average $2,800 to $4,500 worth of costs on current and future global citizens every year with our emissions, and many of these impacts affect some of the poorest countries on earth.
(T)he business-as-usual case that a modeller might use to assess the costs of these actions does not exist for Alberta. We see today increasing pressure on firms to mitigate carbon risk, increasing pressure on governments to achieve their Paris commitments, and increasing focus on Alberta as a symbol of inaction on climate change. We do not see how a comparison to a case where Alberta can continue to find viable markets for its products and see investment return to the oil sands in the absence of credible action on greenhouse gases exists. What would likely exist as an alternative is a world where Alberta faces increasingly discriminatory and punitive policies and barriers to trade both from within and from outside Canada, and where firms face mounting shareholder and institutional investor pressure not to invest in Alberta. The costs of these are speculative, and more difficult to quantify, but we are confident that they far and away exceed the cumulative costs of the actions we’ve recommend. 
- Meanwhile, Larry Buhl reports on widespread wage theft by the U.S.' oil industry.

- Rejean Hebert makes the case for publicly-funded home care and long term care to avoid the need to use our hospital care system to address disabilities and chronic conditions.

- Charles Smith points out the dangerous (if consistent) precedent set by the Saskatchewan Party's refusal to fund the contract it negotiated with Saskatchewan's teachers.

- Finally, Martin Regg Cohn traces the path toward an expanded Canada Pension Plan. And Mark Hancock writes that an improved CPP needs to produce a more secure retirement for everybody, rather than being whittled down to nothing by exceptions and carve-outs.

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