Monday, April 13, 2009


Disclaimer: I usually like DeSmogBlog. But Kevin Grandia has gone off the deep end in criticizing the BC NDP's environmental platform.

The BC NDP certainly aren't covering themselves in glory defending their environmental platform. But this sort of nonsense needs to stop.

Exhibit A:
It's insulting to an academic like Jacaard to be accused of dishonesty and being in collusion with government. What makes it even worse is that Simpson fails to mention that Jaccard has also been an advisor to previous NDP government's -- so much for his conspiracy theory.

Just because it's insulting doesn't mean it's not true (consider, for example, well-known academics Tom Flanagan and Michael Ignatieff). And, am I the only one who notes that these two sentences contradict each other? If it's insulting for an academic to be associated with government, then to associate him with the 90's NDP government is an insult.

What should have been said: Why did the NDP like Jaccard in the 90's if he's a critic of theirs? That's a reasonable point, which should have put the NDP on point to defend or retract their claim that Jaccard is being dishonest.

Exhibit B:
The election campaign here in BC hasn't even begun and the NDP are already spinning hard to put lipstick on their "axe the tax" pig.

I've read Jaccard's report, kindly posted at DeSmogBlog. Nowhere does he say that a carbon tax is better than cap-and-trade; in fact, he says at least once that the two policies can be equivalent. His objection is that the BC NDP plan exempts 65% of GHG emissions. Classing this as having anything to do with removing the carbon tax per se is nonsense. I don't even follow why Grandia is so high on a carbon tax anyway. Surely what he should be high on is reducing emissions; the method should be "whatever works".

(Incidentally, given that the BC Greens will not be forming government any time soon, the only reasons to complain about the BC NDP's platform are to try to get them to improve it and/or to ensure an NDP/Green coalition/consensus government. Defending the BC Liberals' platform against the NDP's is madness; the BC Liberals are a disastrously bad government, as I knew when I left BC in 2002.)


Alison said...

Grandia has worked as a ministerial aide for both the federal and provincial Liberals while Jaccard is one of Campbell's energy analysts and a long time supporter of the carbon tax so it's unlikely either of them would support an NDP cap and trade system - although Campbell did already sign a cap and trade agreement with Alberta and several US states as part of the Western Climate Initiative.

Here's what I'd like to know :
Given that Jaccard has previously said that the gas tax would have to be 10 to 20 times higher to work, I wonder what his projected job losses would be under that scenario.

ADHR said...

Now that's interesting. I wondered what was driving Grandia so far over the edge.

I also would be interested to see Jaccard calculate that scenario. Hell, I'd be interested to see him calculate the impact of the current carbon tax. Throwing out a job loss number in the thousands, without anything to compare it to, necessarily makes the analyzed plan look worse than the unanalyzed one.

Kevin Grandia said...

Actually, my motivation for opposing the NDP has nothing to do with my political past - and at the same time everything to do with it.

I am absolutely appalled at the NDP's blatant vote grabbing tactics with their "axe the tax" campaign.

It was for this reason I got out of politics - I was sick and tired of watching politicians (from all sides of the spectrum) put their political interests ahead of principle - which is exactly Cariole James and the NDP have done,

ADHR said...


Okay, I'll bite. What's the principle that's being abandoned by proposing a cap-and-trade policy rather than a carbon tax? Which seems to be what you're hanging your hat on, rather than the more plausible ineffective vs. effective cap-and-trade policy issue.

Kevin Grandia said...

Campbell has committed to a cap and trade under the Western Climate Initiative AND has introduced a carbon tax, which puts an immediate price on carbon.

So James says she'll put in place a cap and trade program with a timeline extending out at the very least 3 years, but more likely 5 years before we have a system in place.

That puts us out to the year 2014 before BC has even started carbon monetization policy. Way too little, way too late.

The NDP backroom political strategists (i.e. Gerry Scott) see blood in the water on the carbon tax and are willing to put their prinicples aside and delay action on climate change even further here in BC because they think they can pick up a few votes.

Saskboy said...

The NDP have campaigned on there being no gain from a carbon tax, when it does make improvements. In an effort to be different (not necessarily better) they are throwing the Liberal's plan (now gone with Iggy I fear) under the bus.

ADHR said...


I sense goalposts shifting here. First the issue was killing the tax. Then the issue was that the cap-and-trade policy wasn't extensive enough. Now it's not timely enough, and Campbell has committed to one, anyway.

I'll try this one more time: what, exactly, is the problem with removing the carbon tax and implementing a BC-based cap-and-trade policy? Time? Cost? Effect? Extent? Pick one, or some reasonable combination. And we'll go from there.


Granted. And? If it's just different, then why not throw the Liberals' policy away in order to get them out of office?

Scruffy Dan said...

"Nowhere does he [Jaccard] say that a carbon tax is better than cap-and-trade;"

I haven't read Jaccard's latest report (yet; I do plan on blogging about this soon), but based on my readings of Jaccard's earlier work, Jaccard isn't the person to ask on whether or not we should go with a carbon tax or a cap and trade system.

His models have more to do with the effects of carbon pricing, rather than the optimal way of pricing carbon.

Unless he has expanded them to cover this area in his recent analysis of the NDP plan.

"Defending the BC Liberals' platform against the NDP's is madness; the BC Liberals are a disastrously bad government"

There are many areas where the BC Libs are terrible. (Don't get me started on Independent power projects), but at least on the issue of climate change they are light years ahead of the NDP.

Hopefully the this criticisms of the NDP plan will force them to improve it, but as it stands now, the Libs are the party of choice in regards to climate change

ADHR said...

I wouldn't even agree to that much, actually. When it comes to the issue of pricing carbon, the Liberals seem to have the edge. But climate change comprises more issues than just pricing carbon, and on points such as investment in transit and improving energy efficiency, the NDP clearly have the edge.

Scruffy Dan said...

Perhaps, but carbon pricing (if done properly) will encompass pretty much everything, which will spur demand in transit, energy efficiency, amongst other things

Of course for that to happen the carbon tax must be increased beyond 2012.

At the end of the day the NDP's position strikes me like as little more than an attempt to differentiate themselves from the libs, even at the cost of principles they claim to hold.

ADHR said...

I think you're probably right on that score. (Let me point out again: I'm not trying to defend getting rid of the carbon tax.) But I don't think it's clear -- at all -- that the BC Libs have the environmental edge here. If you look at Murky View's recap of the NDP platform, issues such as transit, energy efficiency, and so on are immediate targets of NDP investment. Rather than waiting for the market to solve it, the NDP are suggesting direct governmental intervention.

Scruffy Dan said...

"the NDP are suggesting direct governmental intervention. "

And while I am not against that per se, I am more comfortable with enabling the market to solve these problems.

ADHR said...

I usually am, too. But when it comes to climate change, I worry that the market will be too slow -- that it requires a radical policy change, dictated from the government down.

Scruffy Dan said...

Perhaps, but I worry that that will lead to unintended consequence that may make things worse (aka ethanol).

Of course I would love to be proven wrong on this.

ADHR said...

Always a possibility. But, some governmental ideas have worked out okay in the past. Food safety, for example, has been a pretty good government initiative, all things considered.

Scruffy Dan said...

True, but I fear that since this issue is more complex the likelihood of messing it up is far greater.

But really we are both speculating at this point. The important thing is we both desire action on this issue, and will do what we can to pressure our governments to act.

Scruffy Dan said...

Having just read Jaccard's analysis (I now have a blog post upon the subject), I just wanted to point out that he specifically called out the NDP's energy efficiency policies (which you highlighted) as being inefficient themselves. They just don't provide much bang for the buck.

ADHR said...

Unfortunately, I don't see where he actually got that conclusion from. Maybe I missed something -- can you find where he actually argues for that claim?

I'm still intensely curious, incidentally, as to why Jaccard hasn't analyzed the Liberals' policies on this same issue.

Scruffy Dan said...

Jaccard argues in gernal terms against the NDP's efficiency proposals on page 4 where he calls out the the “non-compulsory” approach, as having so far failed. And more specifically on page 9 under the Green bond section saying "The CIMS simulation indicates that the NDP have substantially overestimated the effectiveness
of their Green Bond proposal. The NDP claim that it will reduce 1 megatonne (Mt) of emissions
per year (10 Mt over 10 years), but the estimate from the CIMS simulation is much lower, at
0.15 Mt per year."

"I'm still intensely curious, incidentally, as to why Jaccard hasn't analyzed the Liberals' policies on this same issue."

As am I. I would welcome any such analysis. Though if you go through the Quirks and Quarks archives he was interviewed and gave his thoughts on the Liberal Green shift proposal, and concluded saying that it was the only one (of the the main federal parties) that had a chance to succeed. The others faced problems similar than those encountered by the BC NDP. Not quite a thorough analysis, but its the best I got.

ADHR said...

Ah, I see it now. To be fair, he's not saying it won't work, just that there needs to be something done about free-riders (otherwise emissions targets will not be met). Which applies to pretty much any program -- I'm sure people are free-riding on the carbon tax, too.

Sorry, should've been clear: I meant the BC Liberals' policies. Not the same as the federal Liberals.