Saturday, April 28, 2007

Economists on Green Plan: What Cost?

It was quite strange, listening to John Baird actually bragging about the economic costs of his green plan. Normally, a politician will try to downplay hardship when presenting a new initiative, not Baird, .5%GDP this, 8 billion that, higher gas, electricity, appliances, etc. That immediately sent up a red flag in my mind, that posture suggested Baird felt he needed to highlight cost to demonstrate that his plan actually had teeth. According to economists, it's much ado about nothing, one just laughs:

Consumers are unlikely to notice a significant rise in costs as a result of the climate plan announced this week, economists say.

But they also doubt the plan will achieve the targets stated - stabilization of greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 and a 20 per cent cut by 2020.

Philippe Crabbe, a University of Ottawa economist, LAUGHED when asked about the likely impact on consumers, suggesting the plan is so weak that the impact will be negligible. "I wouldn't worry," he said.

Crabbe was skeptical that in-depth analysis has been done. "There's no evidence there was a complete study of the plan."

He was particularly critical of a provision that will allow large polluters to avoid cutting emissions by contributing to a technology fund at a rate of $15 a tonne.

He said there is a consensus among experts that a price of at least $30 is required to force emissions cuts and set the stage for a trading system, which the government says it wants.

"If you can get out of the game by just paying $15 into the tech fund, why would you buy a permit?"

David Keith, an environmental economist at the University of Calgary, said there would be an impact on consumer prices if industry were really required to achieve the targets stated in the plan, but said he doesn't think the targets will be achieved.

"If they were really going to meet the emissions targets they set, yes, it would be noticeable. Given what they've actually implemented, not so clear.

"It will be hard for them to get the emissions reductions they say because people will buy their way out at $15 a tonne."

Chris Green, an economist at McGill University, said he found it difficult to comment on the possible impact on consumer prices because he finds the plan confusing.

He said he does not understand how the targets in the plan can be achieved.

"My questions about this is, at what rate can you force these changes even with the best efforts?

Much of the outrage to date has centered around the target dates, and how we get to the numbers the Tories presented. As this farce of plan is digested, expect to see more analysis that demonstrates that even those lowly targets will never be met. They change the starting point, they offer small long term decreases and now we begin to learn that those paltry numbers are unachieveable. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings, as more experts pour over the loopholes and smoke screens. What a joke.


knb said...

"If you can get out of the game by just paying $15 into the tech fund, why would you buy a permit?" Baird's plan.

I for one have not digested it all. Baird keeps talking about the Liberal plan and saying, "it's a license to pollute".

I'm not following that, though I'm sure it's spin. How is he making this claim?

What an idiot he is. He quotes Gore as a "supporter" in the House, and now he say's he has no credibility. Bad, bad move Baird.

On this file, I cannot believe how badly they have fumbled.

On this file, I'd fight them in an election, now. They have messed up twice and who in the real world gets two chances at something so important?

Steve V said...

"He quotes Gore as a "supporter" in the House, and now he say's he has no credibility. Bad, bad move Baird."

I forgot about that, great point knb. Maybe one of the networks can get the footage for contrast. I'd love to see Suzuki and Gore in a joint appearance, for maximum impact.

Steve V said...

During question period in the House of Commons last week, Baird read a statement by Gore that appeared to praise the Conservative policies regarding global warming.

"Canada [is] once again providing leadership in the world, fighting above its weight class and showing moral authority to the rest of the world. That's what Canada's known for," Baird read.

"Do we know who said that yesterday? Al Gore."

Scott Tribe said...

That statement by Baird was made in the House in February

knb said...

Oh, I'd throw Baird in there as well frankly. If he's so confident about his plan, let's see 3 mic's and cameras galore. Let's see this Minister of nonsense stand on the same stage as Gore and Suzuki.

Not in a million years would Baird show that kind of courage. Tough guys, never are that are they? They are usually cowards full of spit and vinegar and when faced with what is what, they run away, they squirm, they have nada to support their vacuous points.

It would seem that we quite a few Ministers in that positon, sadly.

wilson said...

Gore backed out of a requested meeting with Stelmach.

What I like about the tec-fund is that the money stays in the region, not in government hands. Oil & gas will be contributing to the fund and the money will advance enviro research & technology in that field,
rather than a general 'bank account' to be drawn out of, as government appointees see fit (less admin costs).

When will the costing of the newly rewritten CAA come out?

Steve V said...

"Gore backed out of a requested meeting with Stelmach."

Why bother? Stelmach has already stated repeatedly "full steam ahead". Do you really think he would listen? Gore's time is better spent elsewhere.

ottlib said...

It could very well be this Plan will suffer the same fate as the Clean Air Act.

It took a serious body blow from Dr. Suzuki, for reasons I explain in a previous post. Then Al Gore chimed in. That had to have hurt.

Now we have others putting in their two cents and these folks cannot be identified as being overly partisan.

It will be curious to see how all of this impacts on ordinary Canadians. You know, the ones that do not visit political blogs on a daily basis. (Guilty)

Steve V said...

"Then Al Gore chimed in. That had to have hurt."

The fact Baird felt compelled to respond (and apparently he says more on QP today) speaks volumes. The government is in damage control, and a general negative theme is developing.

Tony said...

The fact is that the Liberals had 3 majorities between 1993 and 2004 and could have enacted the necessary legislation and regulations to achieve the climate change targets agreed to under the Kyoto protocol, but they did not.

Even after 2004, when they were reduced to a minority, they would have received the support of the Bloc and NDP to pass the necessary legislation, but they did "nothing"

Now that the Conservative govt has announced climate change and pollution regulations that goes further than any regulation ever enacted in Canada or the United States, the Liberals are screaming with indignation.

That is what I call hypocrisy at the highest level. The Liberals did nothing when they had the chance and now they are criticizing the Conservatives for doing more than they ever did on the global warming issue.

Steve V said...


Can you guys argue the present for once, because the predictable past arguments are getting stale? Then again, when you offer nothing, the easy retort is to attack others? As a matter of fact, it would seem this tactic applies for every issue, doesn't it. Show some responsibility, let's talk the merits of this farce, instead of rehashing shall we.

Everyone knows what the Liberals did or didn't do, that fact does excuse your fraud of a plan. How about some ACCOUNTABILITY, because Conservatives just seem to prefer the dodge and weave, with the blame game.

Tony said...

ottlib said...
"Then Al Gore chimed in. That had to have hurt."

This is the same Al Gore who did not bring the Kyoto bill to the US senate floor to be voted on, thus allowing it to die.

This is the same Al Gore whose mansion consumes more electricity in a month than the average American household consumes in a year.

Al Gore has proven to be a man who promotes Kyoto and tells others to be environmentally conscious, but fails to practice what he preaches. I would take any criticism coming from him with a grain of salt.

wilson said...

It's fair for so-called environmentalists to attack the gov't green plan.
No big surprise they condemn it, it didn't shut down the oils sands nor Ontario coal fueled plants, nor the auto industry.
None of them have disputed yet that it is the toughest regulations Canada and the US have seen.
Nor have they disputed that it is the toughest regulation on oil & gas in the WORLD.
Now, cost out the oppositions re-written CAA, have it go thru the same scrutiny as the governments plan,
and let Canadians decide if they are prepared to pay higher costs, as Suzuki has proclaimed.

p.s. **air pollution reduced 50% by 2015, what target did the oppositions new CAA set?

Steve V said...


Attack the messenger, ala Baird. At least you guys are consistent.

wilson said...

IMO Canadians are prepared to drive less, maybe buy more fuel efficient cars, and change out their lightbulbs, even pay a bit more for utilities.
IMO Canadians are NOT prepared to stand in unemployment lines, or be forced to change from a $35 hr job to starting over at $15 in some eco-job.
If I am wrong, then why isn't the NDP leading this country?
Why can't the Greens get a seat in parliament?
And why didn't the Liberals go at least as far as the Cons have, 5 years ago? (of course the Lizzy May's and Suzuki would have crucified them for not implimenting Kyoto, so best to do nothing than take the heat)

ottlib said...


Go ask an ordinary Canadian whether they are aware of anything you just said about Al Gore and his living habits.

You will receive blank stares.

However, there is a certain awareness of his movie and its message so when he calls the Baird Plan a fraud it will have an impact.

That is why the Conservatives appear to be running scared right now. Their audience is not their own partisan or that of the other parties. Their audience is ordinary non-partisan Canadians and they have just been given a steady diet of credible criticisms of the Baird Plan.

While I would caution overestimating the impact I would also caution dismissing it as well.

Maybe Baird can counter the criticism but I think he might have a problem as a result of his political style. He is best at bellowing at fellow Canadian parliamentarians in QP but you can see that he does not really know how to respond to the likes of Dr. Suzuki or Mr. Gore.

He knows he cannot react like he would to criticism from say, Mr. Dion, but it is also apparent that he does not know of an alternative.

As for your other comment. The Liberals had three straight majorities...blah, blah, blah.

In case you had not noticed Conservatives have been saying that for 15 months and I noticed it has been very effective in building Conservative support.

But by all means keep it up. It is obviously a winning strategy that has not demonstrated a huge downside and it will continue to be so. Like I said in previous posts a government can never go wrong blaming someone else for its mistakes. Canadians just eat that up.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

"This is the same Al Gore who did not bring the Kyoto bill to the US senate floor to be voted on, thus allowing it to die".

What an utterly RIDICULOUS argument! The Senate was in REPUBLICAN hands from the signing of the treaty until Al Gore left office. How is it "letting Kyoto die" to fail to bring it before a Republican Congress who refused to pass it? Gore "let Kyoto die" by not bringing it before a Senate that wanted to stab it to death???

As for Gore's home, of course it consumes more than the national average. He lives in a region where the climate leads to energy consumption 50% higher than the national average. He also lives in a home much larger than the national average. Mr. Gore doesn't say we should all move into small studio apartments and stop using air conditioning. He says we should do whatever we can to reduce our carbon footprint. Mr. Gore's energy bills are so high because he gets his energy from green sources, through a program offered in Tennessee. He also has solar panels installed, so that some of his energy use is self-generated solar power. He then donates to projects that reduce carbon emissions to offset his emissions to the point of overall neutrality.

It's sad that in 2007, being right is no longer enough to win an argument. One must be both right, and PURE. Facts matter less than perception, and it's why so often people attack the messenger, when the message is so unassailable.