Worthwhile Canadian initiative
February 14, 2020 10:52 AM   Subscribe

How emissions-intensive is your sex life, and does it matter? A Valentine's Day excerpt from The Citizen's Guide to Climate Success, a new book (free online) by Canadian climate policy expert Mark Jaccard. Jaccard is a professor of sustainable energy, former chair of the British Columbia Utilities Commission, and the architect of the BC carbon tax. Endorsements.

If you're concerned about climate change, what should you be pushing your government to do? In the concluding chapter, Jaccard summarizes the main ideas of the book:
Decarbonizing the global energy system is a global collective action problem, but humanity lacks global governance mechanisms for allocating costs and ensuring compliance. A voluntary global agreement is unattainable because national interests differ greatly (poorer vs wealthier; fossil fuel-rich vs fossil fuel-poor).

National governments need to recognize the constraints of this situation and develop a strategy that has the greatest chance of a global impact. The strategy includes the following.
  1. Apply regulations and/or carbon pricing to decarbonize domestic electricity and transportation, and work with other leader countries to globalize this effort.
  2. Apply carbon tariffs on imports from climate-laggard countries and work with other leader countries to form climate clubs that globalize this effort.
  3. Assist poorer countries in adopting low-emission energy, especially where this meets air quality and other co-benefit objectives.
In selecting domestic decarbonization policies, jurisdictions should be prepared to trade off economic efficiency against the likelihood of implementation. Although this exercise will depend on numerous jurisdiction-specific factors, such as public trust in government, electoral system, and institutional arrangements for policy-making, the guiding principle should be to not let perfection be the enemy of good. Carbon taxes are particularly problematic if proposed as the sole lead policy for deep decarbonization.
A talk by Jaccard (40 minutes) based on the book. An earlier talk at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.

Where Canada is at the moment: in advance of the October 2019 federal election, Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Leach reviewed the climate platforms of the Conservative, Liberal, NDP, and Green parties. The Conservatives (the only party opposing compulsory policies) were defeated, but have not given up their opposition.

Bonus: Canadian policy blueprints! David Roberts on current federal climate policy. Jaccard, Mikela Hein, and Tiffany Vass propose a package of flexible regulations. BC's CleanBC plan. The 2015 Leach Report, the blueprint for climate policy in Alberta under the Notley government.
posted by russilwvong (19 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Overthinking a plate of beans just before bed on Valentine's day.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:06 AM on February 14

You said “emission”.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:11 AM on February 14 [18 favorites]

"instead of shopping, should we spend more of our time having sex"
posted by doctornemo at 11:21 AM on February 14 [4 favorites]

Canada's a carbon train-wreck. We're stomping on Aboriginal land title to get a gas pipeline built, so there are national rail disruptions. Meanwhile, the federal government is considering approving the colossal Teck Frontier tar-sands project which means the whole country will be in the shitter forever for emissions.

Great job, Selfie Boy.
posted by scruss at 11:24 AM on February 14 [5 favorites]

My sex life allows me to sell carbon credits.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:45 AM on February 14 [9 favorites]

scruss: There was a long Q&A session after Jaccard's talk where people asked about the Teck Frontier project. (Jaccard's view was that if you can drive down oil demand in other countries by working with them to decarbonize transport, it'll never get built anyway - Alberta's a high-cost oil producer, so it'll be among the first suppliers to drop out as demand falls.)

The Teck Frontier project was proposed when oil prices were much higher; Teck's CEO said last week that without higher oil prices, it won't get built. There's open opposition to Teck Frontier within the Liberal caucus. A trial balloon was floated about offering aid to Alberta instead, which was promptly rejected by Alberta.

I thought the article by Andrew Leach and Martin Olsyznski (expanded version) makes the decision pretty clear: there's major environmental impacts, and because oil price projections are much lower than they were in 2011, the economic benefits are much smaller. So the costs outweigh the benefits.

The Kenney government is putting a lot of pressure on Ottawa to approve the project anyway, saying that if it's rejected, it'll raise the level of anger in Alberta to the boiling point. But I think that approval isn't going to help: because the costs vs. benefits are so clear, the decision would immediately be subject to a legal challenge. Cue more anger.
posted by russilwvong at 11:46 AM on February 14 [3 favorites]

More like "The Citizen's Guide to Climax Success", amirite?
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:01 PM on February 14

Thorzdad is my carbon offset plan.
posted by hippybear at 12:17 PM on February 14

How emissions-intensive is your sex life

This map proved useful in locating the H-spots
posted by CynicalKnight at 12:31 PM on February 14

And the H-spot is one more along than the G-spot, so it must be AWESOME!
posted by hippybear at 12:38 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]

You can get into the mood with candles made from beeswax, organic wine in a goatskin, and alluring lingerie produced from hemp, bamboo, or seaweed. Edible underwear may be out of style, but if it’s organically produced, it shouldn’t be taboo. If whipped cream is your thing, never buy an aerosol-spray canister; hand-whip it instead.

This sounds like a cheap stand-up right-wing comic's joke about Democratic sex lives.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:40 PM on February 14 [12 favorites]

The Teck Frontier project was proposed when oil prices were much higher; Teck's CEO said last week that without higher oil prices, it won't get built. There's open opposition to Teck Frontier within the Liberal caucus. A trial balloon was floated about offering aid to Alberta instead, which was promptly rejected by Alberta.

Approving the oil sands project isn't considered 'aid to Alberta'?

The danger about the cost thing is that the oil business is always in the business of striking new government subsidies. The whole industry is thoroughly subsidized, both directly, with financing, and by exemption after exemption from the law.

If they really want to build it, they will just say "well, oil is cyclical, it will always go back up", and then, afyer they build it, they ll ask for more subsidies.
posted by eustatic at 12:49 PM on February 14

… or if they can't get those, sell it to some designed-to-go-bankrupt junior who'll evaporate and leave the public on the hook for cleanup costs.

The province's own estimate of the eventual cleanup bill for every oil and gas well in Alberta is $30 billion, while the AER only holds $227 million in financial security.
posted by scruss at 12:59 PM on February 14

>How emissions-intensive is your sex life

Huh! Wouldn't you like to know.
posted by Twang at 2:58 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]

I think the real risk with Frontier is that we are essentially giving Teck a license to emit a whole lot of carbon. Maybe they build Frontier, maybe they sell it on to someone else, but by approving the project, we're giving them the rights to emit that carbon (their completely content-free plan to be carbon-free by 2050 is of course nothing more than posturing). I think Teck is very wise, in that they know this right to emit carbon will be wise in the future and their getting theirs now, while the price is low.
posted by ssg at 3:04 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]

+1 for this post’s title
posted by chavenet at 4:14 PM on February 14

The intro is the grown-up equivalent of the middle school gimmick “SEX!!!! Now that I have your attention...” and I am 100% here for it.
posted by radagast at 6:50 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]

What a silly question! *inconspicuously drops a towel over my converted lawnmower engine powered sybian*
posted by es_de_bah at 5:41 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]

A brief, anatomically illustrated exposition of male androdynamics – Here’s How Ejaculation Actually Works, Gizmodo, Diane Kelly, 10/23/15:
... a sort of turducken of sexual tissues ... The whole process–called emission–has taken about 3 seconds .... the main event–expulsion–is completely involuntary, a reflex run by the spinal cord, no brain input needed. And once it starts, it can’t be stopped.
It’s a small biological event, but the consequences sure add up.
posted by cenoxo at 6:54 AM on February 15

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