I design and apply computer models that assess the effectiveness of climate policies. My research contributions have been internationally recognized, leading to selection by the Royal Society of Canada, Global Energy Assessment, China Council, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and a distinguished professorship. I also sit on editorial boards of several academic journals.

Many academics avoid public engagement. The deliberate untruths in public debate are difficult to handle when your profession values honesty about evidence and a willingness to change one’s mind. And while academics are not angels, ad hominem attacks are rare.

But 30 years ago, scientists showed that climate change is an existential threat requiring aggressive greenhouse gas-reducing policies, and I felt a duty to engage, knowing my expertise could help climate-concerned citizens identify the most climate-sincere politicians. Sadly, humanity has mostly spun its wheels because climate-insincere politicians have promised ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) targets and wonderful outcomes, like clean electricity and transportation, without implementing the compulsory policies essential for decarbonizing our societies.

The key policies are a mix of carbon pricing, regulations, and government expenditures. Of these, pricing and regulations will always be most important because climate policy needs to influence decisions made by households about their car and furnace and firms about buildings, production processes and goods transport. Government directly controls only a small part of our national emissions, and even large government subsidies to households and firms are repeatedly shown by leading researchers to have but a small effect.

Much of my engagement on climate is international, including testifying before the U.S. Congress against the Keystone XL pipeline, touring European capitals with prominent U.S. climate scientist James Hansen to lobby country leaders for a ban on imports of high-emission oil, and reporting directly to former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao with early climate policies for China. But I am also very active domestically, including providing expert evidence before the National Energy Board on behalf of opponents of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. I give free climate policy advice to any Canadian political party that asks, and I produce independent, non-partisan assessments of climate policy platforms proffered by federal and provincial political parties to help climate-concerned Canadians.

In 2001, I co-authored the book The Cost of Climate Policy, which predicted former prime minister Jean Chretien’s government would not achieve its 2010 Kyoto target unless it immediately added carbon pricing and regulations to its massive government spending. Events proved us right. In 2007, I co-authored the book Hot Air, which made a similar prediction about the ineffective policies of Stephen Harper’s government and his 2020 GHG promise. Again, events proved us right. And last year, I published The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success: Overcoming Myths That Hinder Progress, my most comprehensive effort to help climate-concerned citizens be more effective in their personal lives and especially in their political participation.

What do I and my IPCC colleagues tell these citizens? Above all, don’t be tricked by ambitious targets with vague policy statements. Climate-insincere politicians learned early that naive voters would reward them for promising dramatic GHG reductions in a short time, which they subsequently never achieved once in office. This has been a deception by politicians across the political spectrum — Conservatives, Liberals, and the NDP. (Greens often make extremely ambitious promises but have no chance of governing. When Greens participate in government, as occurs sometimes in Europe, their promises are less ambitious.)

To make matters worse, newly elected governments become paralyzed by their ambitious promises. They quickly realize they can’t achieve them without great economic and political costs, so they don’t really try. (Instead, they launch endless stakeholder policy processes as a delaying tactic.) Ironically, voters who focus on targets inadvertently reward climate-insincere politicians and thus bear some responsibility for our climate crisis.

Detecting political climate sincerity requires a bit more from climate-concerned citizens, as I explained in my recent assessment of party climate platforms in Policy Options. A higher target is desirable, but only if linked to effective policies that independent experts agree will achieve the target, combined with an independent appraisal of the costs associated with shifting to more expensive equipment, buildings, transport, and factories. Effective policies can include government spending on infrastructure, innovation, and support to ensure a just transition, but absolutely must include regulations and carbon prices as only these can truly influence most GHG-determining decisions in our society.

Opinion: Government directly controls only a small part of our national emissions, and even large government subsidies to households and firms are repeatedly shown by leading researchers to have but a small effect, writes Mark Jaccard. #ClimateCrisis

Overall, the climate sincerity of a party’s platform is determined by a combination of: (1) its target, (2) its reliance on effective policies, (3) clarity on the intensity and application of those policies in each period (carbon price, regulation level, amount of government spending), (4) independent modelling verifying policies at these levels will achieve the target, (5) if not, independent modelling to find policy stringencies that will achieve the target, and finally (6) independent modelling that estimates the cost of the target and selected policies.

Not surprisingly, my assessments over the decades have irritated climate-insincere politicians and their supporters. In this election, my ranking (out of 10) of the climate sincerity of the federal parties — which put the Liberals at 8, the Conservatives at 5, the Greens at 4, and the NDP at 2 — caused a reaction.

Seth Klein, the brother-in-law of NDP candidate Avi Lewis, last week published an article in this forum with the subheading “Why you should take Mark Jaccard’s platform ratings with a hunk of salt.” Sadly, his pro-NDP critique is off the mark, and I appreciate this opportunity to address his arguments to the same readership.

Klein claims the climate policy models used by us IPCC experts can only assess the effectiveness of carbon pricing and regulations, ruling out other policy options. This is incorrect. He doesn’t lay out those options, but I think he prefers a plethora of new Crown corporations that government directs to make zero-emission cars, trucks, houses, and industrial plants in a “green new deal” in concert with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy to provide government funds for a “just transition.” If one political party clearly presents this type of platform in detail, we can model it. But the NDP has not done that for this election.

The NDP has made vague statements about government spending but offered few details. Nonetheless, we studied its written plan and statements by its party leader in search of specific policies we could model and assess. Even with our generous assumptions about the effect of the ambitious spending the NDP promises, our policy simulation only achieved a 15 per cent GHG reduction by 2030. To achieve the NDP’s 50 per cent target, we were forced to include additional policies, so we simulated the lowest cost policies for achieving sectoral carbon budgets. However, even with this favourable interpretation, the NDP’s ambitious target resulted in a 6.5 per cent reduction in GDP in 2030. As IPCC policy experts know, rapid decarbonization is very costly, which may explain why the NDP opted not to have an independent assessment of its target and plan, unlike the Liberals and Conservatives.

Klein also argues our rating system for sincerity doesn’t reward ambition in that “the more likely a party’s policies are to meet its own target, the more ‘climate sincere’ Jaccard finds the plan to be.” This is not true. As I explain above, target ambition is only one dimension, and Klein’s claim is refuted by the ratings. Liberals and Conservatives both have policies that achieve their targets, but Liberals get almost double the rating. Why? Liberals have a higher target at 40 per cent and a far better policy record since 2015 at provincial and federal levels.

Klein says my assessment fails to explain why “the Liberals consistently promise to do things in an election ... and then fail to follow through.” I can’t explain what is not true. My IPCC colleagues would agree the most climate-sincere governments in Canada have been provincial Liberals (Ontario in 2000s, Quebec in 2000s, B.C. in 2000s), provincial NDP (Alberta 2010s, now in B.C.) and since 2015, the federal Liberals. Policies put forward by these governments have contributed to declining GHG emissions for most of Canada (e.g., Quebec and Ontario) or have reduced GHG emission growth (Alberta, B.C.).

Klein claims my ratings are biased towards “market-based solutions,” thus ignoring policies like the carbon budget approach in the U.K., “which has been far more successful than Canada’s at actually reducing GHGs.” This misinterprets GHG reduction in the U.K. Carbon budgets don’t reduce GHG emissions. They are an allocation of national targets among sectors of the economy, which compel politicians to implement the usual climate policies.

Climate policy experts agree emissions in the U.K. over the last two decades have fallen primarily because of market-based policies (like the industrial cap-and-trade system and the carbon levy), market-oriented regulations (like the renewable electricity obligation), some prescriptive regulations (like building codes and vehicle emission standards), and modest government spending. As my IPCC colleagues note, the U.K. approach is almost identical to that of Canada’s Liberal government since 2015. If he could put aside his partisan bias, Klein would admit that in praising the U.K.’s approach to climate policy, he is also praising Trudeau’s.

In any case, Klein later reverses himself and brags the NDP will sustain the Liberals’ carbon pricing and “close industry loopholes” to “impose tougher carbon pricing” on industry. (This sure sounds like a market-based solution to me.) While the NDP plan is vague, this can only mean subjecting all industry emissions to the carbon tax (offset allowances are too small to have much effect). Indeed, NDP campaigners from the party leader to Lewis maintain they differ from the Liberals because they will force industry to pay for all emissions.

As I explained in my analysis in Policy Options, with this NDP policy, industries like steel, cement, aluminum, bulk chemicals, fertilizer, pulp and paper, and supporting industries will reduce output as their production costs rise and they are outcompeted by industries from countries with weaker climate policies. Economic collapse certainly reduces GHG emissions, as well as union jobs and government tax revenue for funding a just transition.

But Klein and the federal NDP don’t want to talk about this inconvenient truth. Nor about the fact that social democratic governments in Scandinavia and NDP governments in Alberta and now B.C. have not made industry pay for all emissions. Why? Once in power, they must face economic realities and protect union jobs. They know carbon tariffs are extremely difficult for one country to implement, which is why none have yet.

Finally, Klein is irked that I costed the NDP’s GHG promise and climate policies. In an emergency, he claims, we should ignore costs. Again, this is delusional and, quite frankly, yet more evidence of climate insincerity. If virtually all Canadian households with natural gas furnaces are going to rip these out and replace them with electric heat pumps, they want to know the comparative purchase, installation, and operating cost. And if government helps with a subsidy, they want to know if such support truly comes only from the wealthy and industry, or if an increase in their taxes and energy cost of living is also required.

In my book, The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success, I warned climate-concerned citizens that many people would hitch their agenda to the climate crisis, arguing their pet goal for society is essential. Klein’s agenda is to dramatically increase the role of government in the same way we did in the Second World War to address an emergency. He is unhappy because I don’t completely share his view. Presumably, he is also unhappy with at least 75 per cent of his fellow Canadians because for decade after decade, they vote for political parties that don’t espouse his agenda, and there is no sign of this changing.

Thankfully, we don’t have to wait until a majority of Canadians adopt Klein’s ideology to substantially reduce GHG emissions. Of course, no government can reverse in just five years the fossil fuel growth aggressively promoted during the Harper decade. (Scandinavians introduced carbon pricing in 1990 and experts only detected an effect 10 years later.) But Justin Trudeau has turned the tide. The same models I used to correctly predict that Chretien and Harper would widely miss their targets show Trudeau will likely hit his.

In the recent leaders’ debate, both Jagmeet Singh and Erin O’Toole claimed Trudeau has not hit his targets. This is incorrect. The only target Trudeau has ever had is for 2030, and he is on track to achieve it according to the best assessment tools we have.

For once, we have a climate-sincere federal government. This is not something easily achieved, and it can be easily lost — especially if voters do not think and act strategically to avoid placing an insincere government in power. Climate-concerned citizens have a big responsibility. They cannot afford to indulge themselves with deliberate delusions that keep us floundering. This crisis is too urgent.

Mark Jaccard is a distinguished professor and director of the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University.

Keep reading

Jaccard: "Detecting political climate sincerity requires a bit more from climate-concerned citizens… A higher target is desirable, but only if linked to effective policies that independent experts agree will achieve the target…"

Precisely where Jaccard's "climate sincerity" analysis fails. The Liberals' left hand knows not what the right is doing. Trudeau's contradictory energy/climate policy dooms Canada's climate efforts to failure. Jaccard has testified to this very contradiction in the pages of our national newspapers. But on the eve of an election, he gives Trudeau's Liberals top marks for "climate sincerity". Is this credible?

The unelected, unaccountable shadowy figures, lobbyists, and corporate interests who pull the strings in the Liberal party sincerely care little or nothing about climate change. They seem absolutely sincere about building the TMX pipeline, expanding oilsands production, and derailing Canada's climate efforts. While Jaccard's own "climate sincerity" is not in doubt, his analysis — and scepticism — fails.

Climate-sincere? On Jun. 17, 2019, the Liberal Govt declared a climate emergency. On Jun. 18, 2019 — the next day — the same Liberal Govt re-approved the TMX pipeline expansion project.
Once deadset against TMX, Jaccard has changed his tune. Only three years ago, Jaccard called Trudeau's climate response Orwellian. Now the Liberals top his list for "climate sincerity". TMX and oilsands expansion no longer figure in his analysis.
The evidence has not changed. What made Jaccard change his mind? What pressure did the Liberal machine bring to bear on its critics?

Nothing wrong with climate sincerity. Jaccard just bet on the wrong horse.
Canadians may wonder why.

The 2018 IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C warns that the world must nearly halve GHG emissions by 2030 and eliminate them by 2050 to keep warming below the danger limit of 1.5 C.
The IEA's Net-Zero by 2050 report is unequivocal: No new investment in fossil fuels after this year to limit global warming to 1.5 C.
Trudeau (2016): "There is growth to be had in the oilsands. They will be developing more fossil fuels while there's a market for it, while we transition off fossil fuels."
Trudeau (2017): "No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there."

Trudeau's Liberals and Corporate Canada sincerely want to extract and export as much oil and LNG as possible, even if it means missing our climate targets and destabilizing our climate.
Trudeau's Liberals reject the IEA's conclusions and IPCC reports likewise. So do the oil industry and Canada's Big Banks. The unholy trinity is betting on climate action failure. The only scenario in which oilsands expansion makes sense.
Climate sincere?

Jaccard knows better than to back the Liberals' climate plan. Or at least he did in 2018. His Globe and Mail op-ed is essential reading:

"Trudeau’s Orwellian logic: We reduce emissions by increasing them" (Globe and Mail, 20-Feb-18)
Jaccard: "Orwell would not need energy expertise to know that emission increases from major industries cannot occur if a prime minister is to keep his promise. Yet all three [PM Mulroney, Chretien, Harper], and now Mr. Trudeau, have countenanced Alberta's oil sands expansion, the single biggest reason for missing targets. With oil output growing from one million barrels per day in 2005 to 2.5 million barrels in 2015, Alberta's contribution to Canada's emissions increased from 230 to 270 Mt of CO2. And Alberta's emissions will reach 290 Mt by 2030 if projects like Trans Mountain are completed. NATIONAL STUDIES BY INDEPENDENT RESEARCHERS (INCLUDING MY UNIVERSITY-BASED GROUP) CONSISTENTLY SHOW THAT MR. TRUDEAU'S 2015 PARIS PROMISE OF A 30% REDUCTION BY 2030 IS UNACHIEVABLE WITH OIL SANDS EXPANSION. His staff know this, so he knows it, too.
"Second, Orwell would note that constitutional experts agree that the Canadian government has the authority to achieve its greenhouse gas promises. … If Mr. Trudeau fails, he cannot blame unco-operative provinces for his failure. He admitted as much when he told Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall that federal climate policies will apply to every province.
"Thus, the Prime Minister does not need a deal with Alberta for more oil pipelines in order to meet his Paris commitment. He simply needs to quickly apply his federal authority to regulate or price emissions from electricity generation, oil sands, other industries, transportation and buildings. When he does, oil sands output will not grow, and pipeline expansion will not be needed.
"Third, if Orwell consulted experts at any of the internationally renowned institutions assessing how humanity keeps the temperature increase below two degrees C, he would note their unanimous conclusion that oil sands expansion must not occur. … Global oil demand must fall from today's 95 million barrels a day to about 65 million by 2050. As a high-cost, high-emission resource, oil sands will not expand as oil prices fall in a declining oil market.
"Mr. Trudeau and his advisers know that it makes no sense, indeed is economically and socially irresponsible, to build a pipeline today for expanded production that should not occur if we are to prevent devastating climate change. Fostering increased oil sands jobs in Alberta is inconsistent with global climate goals.
Above, Jaccard writes: "The same models I used to correctly predict that Chretien and Harper would widely miss their targets show Trudeau will likely hit his."
In 2018 Jaccard's models predicted precisely the opposite. The evidence has not changed. The only thing that changed is Jaccard's conclusion.
"‘By That Logic, We All Go to Hell Together’: Mark Jaccard on Trudeau’s Pipeline Talking Points" (The Narwhal, Feb. 21, 2018)
Jaccard: "A big motivator for the op-ed as well was that I’ve done a lot of the national modelling. If you froze the emissions from the oilsands, it is still really hard to hit a Paris target. If you look on the graphs, we’ve gone all the way up to 2.5 million barrels a day. Maybe it’s going to stabilize up there. That would be fine with me. But if you build more pipelines, it’s most likely going to keep going higher.
"… Trudeau says he’s serious about his Paris commitment. That’s one area where I have expertise and people like me should be speaking up. … To me, the burden of proof is on Trudeau. If he’s going to keep telling Canadians that he’s serious about his Paris targets, then the burden of proof is on him. Any expert will tell you that he should already have all the policies in place right now. We can map how they achieve Paris."

That was then.

Sometime after Feb 2018 (when Jaccard unequivocally opposed Trudeau's push for TMX), he found or invented reasons to give Trudeau a pass on pipelines. On CBC Radio in August 2020:

CBC host: "But I'm sure some listeners are listening to you right now and thinking — this government bought a pipeline. How does that square with sincerity on the climate?"
Jaccard: "… Alberta and Saskatchewan, among others, Newfoundland, have interests in their fossil fuel endowment — and so how do you speak to those people — and one of them is to say, "What are the things we can give them?" What I can say is that if we do our policies right and phase out the use of gasoline and diesel in Canada, like the Scandinavians are, the Californians, and now other countries, even the Chinese, then we'll be part of a global movement, and things like oil pipelines won't matter a lot. We might have built it. Maybe it will be owned half by First Nations people, and there will be some benefits from it, and maybe one day we'll convert that pipeline into a hydrogen pipeline, or into a biofuels pipeline — there are all sorts of possibilities. We're still going to move energy around.
"But right now the government has to tell the different regions of Canada: You matter to us, we understand you have your own views, maybe they're biased somewhat, and we have to respect that. But I understand why a government might make compromises like that that look contradictory — as part of staying in power, and being climate sincere, and preventing climate insincere parties from getting into government — and to be honest having a ten-year lost decade like we had under the Harper Canadian government."
"Net-zero emissions by 2050 is the goal. So how do we get there?" (CBC, What On Earth, Aug 22, 2020)
Contrast that scattershot logic with Jaccard's no-nonsense Globe and Mail op-ed in 2018. Sounds like he has thrown in the towel on rising oilsands emissions and Canada's targets. Sounds like someone twisted his arm.
To paraphrase: If you want Alberta's cooperation, you need to meet them halfway. And maybe one day the global market will strand our oilsands assets. And maybe Alberta's economy will crash and burn. And maybe Canadian taxpayers will be happy to pay for oilsands clean-up after the party. And maybe we can use the pipeline for something green — like greenwash.

Meeting the oilpatch halfway is halfway to climate hell. Driving a little slower over the climate cliff. Alberta will never be happy with just one new pipeline. Alberta will never cooperate on climate. Alberta will never give Trudeau any credit for pipelines. Albertans will send few, if any, Liberal MPs to Ottawa. Albertans down to their unvaccinated souls believe that Trudeau is anti-pipeline — determined to shut the oilsands down and transition oil & gas workers to Dickie Dee ice cream carts. Appeasement is a lost cause. Alberta will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Didn't Jaccard argue in the Globe and Mail that Trudeau doesn't need Alberta's co-operation?

New oilsands export pipelines still enable oilsands expansion. Oilsands expansion still mean higher emissions for decades. Still means Canada's misses its climate targets. No change there. What's changed is Jaccard's views (or strategy), not Trudeau's policies.

So what happened?
No online trace of the term "climate-sincere" in Jaccard's lexicon until 2019. Jaccard's book "The Citizen's Guide to Climate Success" hit the shelves in Feb 2020. (Sorry, haven't read it yet. Too busy commenting.) Chapter 2 is a highlight: "The Art of Deluding Ourselves and Others."

Jaccard contrasts the "climate sincere" Liberals with the "climate insincere" Harper Conservatives. Jaccard was scarred by Harper's 10 years in office, and any change is an improvement.
The fallacy is obvious. The Conservatives are hopeless on climate, so by some twist of logic that makes the Liberals acceptable. Too many calories in the Cons' greasy hamburger and fries, so the Liberals' chocolate-cake weight-loss plan is sure to be a winner.

Arguably, the Conservatives who openly dismiss climate change science as alarmist, obstruct climate action, muzzle scientists, and attack ENGOs are more sincere than the "progressives" who say one thing and do another. In important ways, "progressive" denialism is worse than right-wing blatant denialism.
"The New Climate Denialism: Time for an Intervention" (The Narwhal, Sep 26, 2016)
Jaccard now lets his antagonism toward Harper cloud his judgment of Trudeau. Other climate analysts see Trudeau for what he is — their faculties unimpaired by past trauma and Trudeau's dazzling chaussettes.
Another theory: In recent days, Mark Jaccard, Andrew Weaver, and Martin Olszynski have all stood up for the Liberals. Two of them have expressed tepid support for TMX, resorting to the same flimsy argument. Something in the water?
Look no further than the Trans Mtn pipeline. "Since 1961, Trans Mountain has reported approximately 82 spills to the NEB." (Probably outdated by now.)
Or maybe our three academics woke up to find a horse head in their beds. Polite note on Liberal Party letterhead attached:
"We know where you live."
Far-fetched? Check out the chilling intro to Martin Lukacs' piece "How Trudeau learned to stop worrying and love the Alberta carbon bomb". Behind that slick frontman stand a cabal of thugs who do not take no for an answer.
"How Trudeau learned to stop worrying and love the Alberta carbon bomb" (Sep 9 2021)
In Canada nobody has more financial clout than the Big Banks, and they are backing the oilsands, come hell or high water. Looks like both.

In this rebuttal, Jaccard recognizes that carbon budgets can be a part of sound policy, in contrast with his original statement that they are "difficult to conceptualize" and implication that they would require "police state" enforcement. You could call those claims deliberate untruths.

Sorry to take up so much space in the comments section, but I can't let this pass:
Jaccard: "My IPCC colleagues would agree the most climate-sincere governments in Canada have been provincial Liberals (Ontario in 2000s, Quebec in 2000s, B.C. in 2000s), provincial NDP (Alberta 2010s, now in B.C.) and since 2015, the federal Liberals. Policies put forward by these governments have contributed to declining GHG emissions for most of Canada (e.g., Quebec and Ontario) or have reduced GHG emission growth (Alberta, B.C.)."

Forgive me for choking on my cornflakes. In which alternative universe is the pipeline queen climate sincere? Absurd revisionism.
Tiny carbon taxes, coal phase-out, fraudulent emissions caps, and "free" LED bulbs were smoke and mirrors. A fig leaf. A cynical quid pro quo for new pipelines.
Big Oil is OK with a low carbon tax that has no real effect and does not hurt its bottom line. Especially if they can trade it for new export pipelines that enable oilsands expansion.
After the Federal Court 2018 ruling on TMX, Notley pulled her support for a national "floor price" on carbon. Undermining NDP credibility on climate by hinging her support for a federal carbon tax in exchange for pipelines.
Notley: "Until the federal government gets its act together, Alberta is pulling out of the federal climate plan. And let’s be clear, without Alberta, that plan isn’t worth the paper it’s written on."
Tzeporah Berman: "The courts ruled in favour of indigenous rights and acknowledged the risk to the dwindling Orca population and so Notley … pulls out of the climate plan? What?! We are going to acknowledge indigenous rights and protect the whales? Well screw the climate then."
Notley granted the oil & gas industry tax holidays and exemptions. Not to mention billions of tax dollars in subsidies. Fossil fuel subsidies are a carbon tax in reverse. Notley left office without implementing her fraudulent oilsands emissions cap.
Notley's end run around her own carbon tax defeated the purpose.
Notley had no plan to bend the curve on AB oil production, or initiate a "just transition" for oil workers, much less get AB off oil. Under the NDP "climate plan", AB's emissions would likely go up, not down.
The Liberals and AB NDP have proved far more effective than the Conservatives in delivering on Big Oil's and Corporate Canada's agenda. Trudeau & Co. have persuaded many Canadians that we can both act on climate and double down on fossil fuels. Trudeau and Notley moved the ball on the Trans Mountain pipeline down to the ten-yard line. Their signal achievement was to "push country-wide support for pipelines from 40% to 70%." Something Harper, Scheer, and Kenney could never dream of.
Notley's fraudulent oilsands 100+ Mt emissions cap allowed for emissions 43% higher than 2015's under-reported levels. Plenty of exemptions boosted the nominal cap. Total oilsands emissions including projects that are under construction, have received approval, or are seeking approval "blow well past" AB's cap. (Pembina Institute)
Notley's NDP relentlessly attacked environmentalists and pipeline opponents. By the end of term, she had bought into Vivian Krause's absurd fantasies:
"'I'm frustrated by it, of course,' Notley says of the [anti-oilsands] campaign. 'Vivian Krause (the B.C. researcher) and people like her have done a good job of really laying bare the details of this and really showing us the degree to which this had been going on and building over time.'"

That's Alberta's climate champion?

"Oilpatch odours in northwestern Alberta still pungent, years after inquiry"
"[Donna Daum, a retired teacher] points out that members of the current NDP govt — including Premier Rachel Notley — were loud in their support when they were in opposition.
"'(Notley) talked about the precautionary principle, which obviously is no longer in their dictionary. I can't believe how these dictionaries get rewritten the moment there's some responsibility attached to things.'"
In opposition, the NDP voiced support for a comprehensive healthy study on cancers in Fort Chipewyan. In govt, the only sound was crickets.
"[Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation,] said his people continue to die from cancer at alarmingly high rates, a fact he blamed on oilsands developments. 'Whatever food I'm bringing in from the bush, it is getting our people sick.' The chief said he had hoped that after four decades of Conservative rule in Alberta, things would be different when the NDP government came to power in May 2015. But under the Rachel Notley government, he said, it's business as usual. 'I feel very, very ashamed to call myself an Albertan. I feel very, very ashamed to call myself a Canadian citizen.'" (January 2017)
"The talk around our table is that the NDP government is just another platform of the previous Conservative government with a different logo. Nothing has changed." (Chief Allan Adam)
Dr John O'Connor: "Pre-election, the NDP/Rachel Notley were vocally supportive of bringing accountability and responsibility to bear on the environmental and health impacts,especially downstream, of the tarsands. After the AB Cancer Board report on Fort Chipewyan, she was notably outspoken on the need to comply with the recommendation for a comprehensive health study of Fort Chip, which was never even started.
"Now—it’s buried and forgotten. Such hypocrisy."
Former AB Liberal leader Kevin Taft: "Through her whole career and her whole party, up until they became government, [Notley and the NDP] were very effective critics, counterbalances to the oil industry. As soon as she stepped into office, as soon as she and her party became government, they've simply became instruments of the oil industry."
Taft: "The world is working hard to end its dependence on oil, so hitching the country’s economy to an industry that must be phased out is recklessly short-sighted."
Reakash Walters, federal NDP candidate in Edmonton Centre 2015: "As one of two people who nominated Rachel in 2015, I am truly disappointed in the direction the provincial party has taken and that they have chosen to prioritize oil extraction in the middle of a climate crisis."
"What was Rachel Notley suggesting when she said she’s not committed to voting for Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats?" (Alberta Politics, 2019)
Anyone who agrees with Jaccard's "climate sincerity" analysis is welcome to it. I'll pass.

Thanks for all the fish!

I appreciate your detailed analysis and share your sentiments on this, but think that Jaccard, who you concede is genuine about climate, is simply trying to help take the Liberals over the finish line here because they are inarguably the best choice under the circumstances. It's simply the reality we're faced with.
Trudeau was on CBC this morning from B.C. where Andrew Weaver was standing next to him, but he also mentioned Mark Jaccard a couple of times as another international expert who has worked with that body, but as an economist, among his other valid credentials. Jaccard has a bit more credibility on the apolitical front, but he also took the time to answer Seth Klein respectfully and thoroughly, if incompletely when it comes to Rachel's questionable position. Which I agree with, and wonder what she will do next go-round in this stupidly tribal province. It's not easy, clearly, to win power when an increasingly avid clump of conservatism lurks in every population, but you can't do a damn thing unless you navigate that thorny conundrum.

Geoffrey, you haven't read Jaccard's "Citizen's Guide to Climate Success" yet choose to comment extensively on its contents? Hmmm . . .

I quoted from — and based my commentary on —Jaccard's 2018 Globe and Mail op-ed; Jaccard's 2018 interview in The Narwhal; Jaccard's 2020 interview on CBC Radio — in contrast to today's op-ed.
Jaccard has travelled a long way since 2018. Based on the evidence — not least, the Liberals' actual record — Jaccard took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

The relevant thesis of Jaccard's book:
"In his new book, The Citizen's Guide to Climate Success, Jaccard tells people to find 'climate-sincere politicians,' those who set near-term targets linked to compulsory policies — rather than distant goals without clear mechanisms for change." (CBC, Aug 22, 2020)

Jaccard elaborates on that thesis in his op-ed above. In light of glaring inconsistencies with his previous commentary and the real-world evidence I cited, Jaccard's analysis seems untenable.

I don't think that Jaccard is automatically a card-carrying Liberal. His views did change, as did many views over the last five years, but given the fact he conducted his modelling analysis of climate policies only recently, presumably using a fair, testable methodology featuring equal treatment for all parties examined, that view was bound to change for the better toward the Libs after the carbon tax was enacted, TMX and broken promises notwithstanding. Note that two parties actually invited his analysis. Unfortunately, neither of them was the NDP.

Jaccard also helped BC premier Gordon Campbell, a rank-and-file Conservative (despite the BC "Liberal" handle), to design a carbon tax for BC, arguably something that was innovative as the first one in North America and that has worked, even though many of us consider it low hanging fruit and only a first step.

My issues with Jaccard don't concern his field of research and evidence, but his tendency to get personal and use sarcasm. The above article is no exception; though it's a bit more tame, he obviously got up some people's noses here. He did that in "Carbon Shift" (edited by Thomas Homer Dixon -- one of Canada's most luminous intellectuals and a better writer) with peak-oil believers (I was one of them back in the late 90s), whom he insulted with unprofessional, condescending language even though he was ultimately right that peak demand is the issue, not peak supply, then Naomi Klein in "Citizen's Guide" for being more interested in smashing capitalism than defining economically workable specifics concerning climate action.

Jaccard needs to stick to the data and find a neutral and more professional way to expose economic naïveté. He also needs to deflate his self-importance and develop relationships with the engineers, architects, urbanists, ecosystem protectors and others to develop the best possible actions to fight climate change based on realistic math and actual project management experience on the ground. The ivory tower does seem to permit some academic's heads to get stuck in the clouds.

But to silence Jaccard after he punctured a few unrealistic NDP, Conservative and Green sentiments and doused a few glaring bits of economic illiteracy with cold math? No. His voice is too important.

Jaccard has done a 180° both on TMX (and therefore on oilsands expansion, which blows up Canada's climate targets) and the Trudeau Liberals' climate response. He needs to account for that reversal.
Nowhere did I suggest that Jaccard should be silenced. I simply reject his judgment that the Trudeau's Liberals, Notley's AB NDP, and Horgan's B.C. NDP are climate sincere. A bridge — or pipeline — too far from reality.

Alex Botta wrote: "…given the fact he conducted his modelling analysis of climate policies only recently, presumably using a fair, testable methodology featuring equal treatment for all parties examined, that view was bound to change for the better toward the Libs after the carbon tax was enacted, TMX and broken promises notwithstanding."

Above, Jaccard writes: "The same models I used to correctly predict that Chretien and Harper would widely miss their targets show Trudeau will likely hit his."
Same models.

In 2018, Jaccard's models predicted precisely the opposite. So did everybody else's. So why the about-face? The evidence has not changed on pipelines and oilsands expansion.

From Jaccard's 2018 Globe and Mail op-ed: "National studies by independent researchers (including my university-based group) consistently show that Mr. Trudeau's 2015 Paris promise of a 30% reduction by 2030 is unachievable with oil sands expansion." Has Jaccard retracted that research?

The OECD, the UN, and the federal Environment Commissioner all warn Canada is NOT on track to meet its targets. The main stumbling block? Increasing oilsands emissions.

OECD: "Without a drastic decrease in the emissions intensity of the oilsands industry, the projected increase in oil production may seriously risk the achievement of Canada's climate mitigation targets."
The 2018 IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C warns that the world must nearly halve GHG emissions by 2030 and eliminate them by 2050 to keep warming below the danger limit of 1.5 C. IEA's Net-Zero by 2050 report says no new investment in fossil fuels after this year to contain global warming to 1.5 C. The Liberals reject the IEA's conclusions and every IPCC report likewise. So does the oil industry.
"Pembina Institute and Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Energy Management assessed every province, territory and the federal government on 24 indicators that are foundational to climate success. The findings are published in 'All Hands on Deck: An assessment of provincial, territorial and federal readiness to deliver a safe climate'. The analysis found that NOT A SINGLE GOVERNMENT is fully prepared to help deliver a safe climate…"
"Without a Team Canada approach on climate, we risk getting left behind" (National Observer, July 28th 2021)
Critiques of NDP and Green climate policy are welcome. Political parties can promise the sky if they have no hope of power. Where has Singh been on climate since 2019? Notley NDP acolytes feverishly awaiting her second coming in Alberta after the Kenney debacle will be sorely disappointed. Like last time.
But NDP and Green inadequacies on climate policy in no way justify the actual failures of the party in power. Only two federal parties have a record on climate action. The Liberals have been in power for 18 of the last 30 years. What do they have to show for it? Besides a pipeline to nowhere.

What changed with Jaccard's qualified support of the federal Liberal climate policies since TMX and comments he made on the oil sands?

Simple. A carbon tax, which came into effect just this year. As an economist, he sees it as one of the most powerful instruments to counterattack emissions. In his book 'Citizen's Guide' he also expounds on regulations but has some detailed views on how they can be feasibly implemented by politicians without causing enough backlash amongst vested interests and from citizens paying higher prices. That's where I feel his ideas got murky and convoluted and unfortunately mixed in with sarcastic insults specifically toward icons on the left and others.

"As of January 2021, seven of the 13 Canadian provinces and territories are using the federal “backstop” [carbon tax] plan. The price in 2020 was C$30 per ton of CO2, it increased by C$10 per ton until 2022, and then will increase by C$15 per ton each year until it hits C$170 per ton in 2030."


The Supreme Court backed the feds in the challenges launched by conservative provinces.

I am currently reading Mark Carney's "Value(s)" and find his narrative is situated far above the fray and is the ultimate of professionalism while he picks apart economic ideas that failed (e.g. Brexit), but still manages to get his points across and propose plans to fight climate and other big challenges with specific financial instruments, like carbon taxes and subsidies that work. Carney and Jaccard are kilometres apart.

I don't think Jaccard changed his mind on TMX. He seems to be ignoring it and oil sands production in his push to support the CT and the other policies he listed within the time frame of this election campaign. That's a far cry from "changing his mind" and by inference supporting them. As an economist he can run the numbers as good as any other and see that the project possesses highly flawed fundamentals (oh yes, those Asian refineries are already lining up to pay premium prices, aren't they?), has never had an independent professional risk assessment conducted specifically on the various levels of spills and their impacts on the marine environment and economy (3.3 million people live on the south coast of BC), and has never provided evidence to back its claim that the diluted bitumen from TMX will not continue to receive the so-called "discounted" price is always has from the USA when tankers turn south toward the heavy oil refineries in California.

If you disagree with Jaccard and feel he did change his mind about TMX, then why not write to him directly at SFU about your concerns?

There is a huge task ahead and we needn't get too bogged down in arguing the details on fighting climate. We all would agree that a carbon tax is essential. From there we have a lot of projects and policy and budgets and planning to do. Not to mention to elect more courageous politicos. One single party cannot do it alone, and in fact minority governments are the best we can do today to enact laws that represent the majority of citizens and bring in great change for the better.

Federal carbon tax does not apply to oilsands producers. Does not apply to Canada's oil exports either.
Carbon pricing alone is insufficient — far too slow to reduce emissions on required schedule.
Either Jaccard changed his mind about TMX — or someone changed it for him.

How can anyone claim that Mr.Trudeau is sincere when
a) he gives new permits for oil and gas drilling on the east coast
b) he continues to provide large unnecessary subsidies to oil and gas companies
c) he supported building the Keystone XL pipeline
d) he bought the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline in order to finish it.

I appreciate the credentials of people like Mark Jaccard, and his willingness to openly debate the issues associated with climate action policy. I also appreciate where Seth Klein is coming from and his contributions as well. And the extensive commentary by Geoffrey Pounder is also appreciated.

I myself am a Green party supporter and will try put forward my perspective as succinctly as possible.

Economic models have limitations. They can't predict how climate action policies will drive technological innovation that affects economic activity. And they can't take into account the full impact of the destruction inaction on the Climate will cause. A solid plan that reaches an inadequate target is worse than an aspirational plan with fewer details. It lulls people into believing we are doing everything practical to solve the problem when the problem is existential and needs more extraordinary measures to accomplish its goals. I agree with the general direction of Liberal policy, especially on carbon pricing - it just doesn't go far enough fast enough. The vested fossil fuel interests have too much power in obstructing progress, and we desperately need to overcome their over-sized influence on policy decisions.

Yes - Aspirational is what's needed, coupled to Klein's idea of all-out go-for-it approach. to execution.
You don't get to the moon without that kind of focus on execution of an aspirational goal.
Anybody for Mission Oriented Government? (after Mariana Mazzucato and Mission Economy)

In my riding there is a stark choice between two parties that are in a dead tie, the Liberals and Conservatives. As a social democrat environmentalist social justice sustainable urbanism guy at heart, it was terribly painful to vote for the Liberal candidate who is a property flipper extraordinaire in Canada's most unaffordable housing market, and for a party that bought a pipeline. It was a WTF! moment, considering the circumstances.

Those circumstances are cold, hard and mathematical. Vote for any other centre-left party and the Conservative candidate would be elected, and possibly a Conservative government that would set climate and social justice back a half century. The wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst progressives would be deafening. It could still happen, but I am old and cynical enough (thanks to Harper) to figure out how not to contribute to vote splitting.

To those who think strategic voting is a violation of principles, then please inform us which progressive 'party of principle' does NOT put strategy at or near the top of their daily agenda? That NDP icon and man of principle, Jack Layton, took down his own Liberal-NDP minority government and therein kiboshed any chance of doing great things as did Lib-Dem minority governments in the 60s, who back then had far more courage and wisdom. Layton opened the door for Stephen Harper to cake-walk into a dark decade of rule. Why? ONly because Layton was seduced by temporary high poll numbers, much like Trudeau today.

The day that party aparatchiks start living up to their holier-than-thou principles with realistic plans and downgrade strategizing, will be the day strategic voters will turn back to voting on principles instead of playing the same game. The NDP and Greens need to act like grown-ups and have a long discussion, to cite just one area where progressive voters are sincerely dismayed and PO'd by the politicos immaturity.

I won't criticize anyone living in a riding with a tight race that makes a strategic voting decision. But there are many ridings where a principled vote will help move the needle in the direction it needs to go in.

The year I voted on principal in a ‘safe’ Liberal riding was the year Lawrence Cannon was first elected. Combine the Liberal, NDP and Green votes and that would not have happened.


Just be sure that you’re at least as sure as I was in 2006. :)

Jaccard says here, "Klein’s agenda is to dramatically increase the role of government in the same way we did in the Second World War to address an emergency. He is unhappy because I don’t completely share his view. Presumably, he is also unhappy with at least 75 per cent of his fellow Canadians because for decade after decade, they vote for political parties that don’t espouse his agenda, and there is no sign of this changing."

Mr. Jaccard, this is not an argument. It appears to be a classic fallacy; it boils down to saying "Many people disagree with you, therefore you are wrong". It's particularly silly in the current context given that no political current in Canada can claim majority support for their views, so presumably your dismissal would apply to every policy position. As to "He is unhappy because I don’t completely share his view" . . . so, what, are New Democrats uniquely not allowed to think their views are correct, and so not allowed to think people who disagree with them are wrong? YOU seem unhappy because HE doesn't completely share YOUR views . . . that's only valid if it's you? What a snide, empty piece of verbiage.

It so happens that drastically increasing the role of government (as in the case of WW II) is generally what is done to successfully confront a large emergency. So do you have any actual basis for not sharing the view that this should be done? Admittedly, it's hard for you to model because nobody's actually done it yet so you have nothing to compare. But that strikes me as being upset that someone is persisting in looking for the car keys where they lost them, rather than under the street lights where you can see better.

Thank you.

Attacking the messenger doesn't do much to further any cause, but then again, modelling the effect of "market forces" doesn't do much to get things done either. So let's ignore all this waffle and focus on how to get things done.
Canada needs to go from X gigatons of CO2 to Zero gigaton by 2050. Can we set some short term intermediate targets? Can we break the progress curve down by industry/application, based on potential rate of change? Can we aim for 2 year weigh points? If the rate of change is too slow, can we identify what processes need to be redesigned/reinvented/substituted/etc. and then science the heck out of each to change the rate? Maybe not a lot of us reading this were adults during the Moon Shot days, but did no one else watch The Martian? Really guys, it's not politics, it's rocket science!

As someone already said, many good points are made by Jaccard, Klein, Pounder and others. Patiently waiting for political dynamics (Cons win, Libs or some other Party wins back) to work themselves out and finally set us on the right path is not advisable because we are in a climate emergency. Therefore it seems obvious that we'll be better off with a Liberal than a Conservative government post-Sep 20. Who to vote for to achieve (ideally) a reduced Liberal minority government will depend on the relative chances in each riding. Should the Cons achieve a plurality, there is the option of the Libs-NDP-Greens-[Bloc] to withhold their confidence vote so we'd end up with a Lib minority government anyway.

The major flaw in Jaccard's reasoning, it seems to me, is that he doesn't believe we can afford to do more than what the establishment (that is, any main Party, supported by the banks) is willing to tolerate. While the public, especially the younger generation, is well ahead of the politicians and the interests they serve, the message that urgent and bold action must be taken does need to penetrate deeper.

I think Jaccard's models also underestimate the stimulative effect of sharply bending the curve. He seems to see the cost side only.

It is naïve and misleading, I suggest, for Marc Jaccard to implicitly presume and imply that a Liberal majority government would implement the climate heating crisis policy that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals promise during an election.

With only two exceptions, e.g. legalization of cannabis, Canada Child Benefit, the Justin Trudeau Liberals have never fully honoured a progressive commitment they ever made during an election.

If Canadians return the Liberals to power with a minority government, the odds increase that Canada will get closer to doing what is required to effectively address the climate heating crisis. A majority government, regardless of the party forming government, is likely to result in failure, as usual.

Well put. We need to be inspired by powerful coalitions like the Greens and Social Democrats in Germany, not to mention our own Liberal-NDP governments of the 60s that enacted Canada's publicly insured healthcare system and other important programs like CPP.

I was born in Saskatchewan under Tommy Douglas who led the continent in embarking on public healthcare. Jaccard is unkind toward a few of today's progressives mainly on economic literacy issues, some of which are justified. But remember that Douglas had a huge heart encased in thick enough armour to take on powerful interests while implementing much needed but expensive social programs. He managed just fine, and brought down 21 consecutive balanced budgets. No financial illiteracy anywhere to be found.

Not to be outdone, he leveraged his power nationally as the freshly minted federal NDP leader to underpin Lester B. Pearson's Liberal minority and negotiated public healthcare as a national program, modelled on the UK's National Health Service. Ditto CPP. Douglas was rewarded by losing his federal seat, a risk he willingly took when affecting dramatic Big Idea change.

Though Douglas was imperfect and had one or two disagreeable ideas, no one looking back today can argue that he wasn't a towering figure of political courage and honesty who profoundly changed Canada.

Where is our Tommy Douglas today?