By Andrew Mitchell
With North America and Europe reporting their warmest and shortest winter seasons on record, and almost daily reminders of global warming in the news, the Whistler Forum for Dialogue has secured one of Canada’s leading experts on energy and greenhouse gas emissions, Dr. Mark Jaccard of Simon Fraser University.
Dr. Jaccard will address the Forum next Tuesday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m. at Maurice Young Millennium Place. He will also be present at a Friends of the Forum reception at the Path Gallery starting at 5:30 p.m.
“We’re really quite excited,” said William Roberts of the Whistler Forum. “Not only that he’s coming to speak, but we’re also trying to use him as an advisor and consultant on our own plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions… meaning largely the energy task force of Whistler 2020, and Whistler-Blackcomb through Arthur DeJong’s efforts.”
Other presenters include Squamish Councillor Patricia Heintzman, who helped to create a 12-step program for the Squamish District to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and SyncWave’s Nigel Protter, who is working to develop wave power as an alternative form of electrical generation.
Roberts believes Dr. Jaccard’s approach, matching economic sense with environmental sensibility, is a good approach to addressing greenhouse gases and climate change.
“It’s great having all these speakers out there, like David Suzuki and Al Gore, talking about it, but we need to take serious action and we can only do that with a collaborative leadership effort, with businesses, with the RMOW, with the citizens, all of us working together.”
Dr. Jaccard’s work includes costing greenhouse gas emission reduction policies for various levels of government, industry and non-governmental organizations. His current research includes the macro-economic feedbacks of energy-environment policies, modeling consumer behaviour, and modeling the relationship between production and cost for environmentally desired technologies.
As well as being a member of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, Dr. Jaccard is responsible for the Canadian Industrial Energy Efficiency Data and Analysis Centre, is a former chair of the B.C. Utilities Commission (1992 to 1997), served on the International Panel on Climate Change (1993 to 1996), and served on the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (1996 to 2003).
He has also authored several papers, including “Sustainable Fossil Fuels: An Unusual Suspect in the Quest for Clean and Enduring Energy”, “Canada’s Efforts Towards Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction: A Case Study in the Limits of Voluntary Action and Subsidies,” and “Policies that Mobilize Producers Toward Sustainability: The Renewable Portfolio Standard and the Vehicle Emission Standard.”
Jaccard was not available for an interview, but sent his latest article, “Canada’s Kyoto Delusion” from Literary Review of Canada, to give readers an idea what his Whistler talk will be about. In the article he slammed Canada’s past approaches to dealing with greenhouse gas emissions that focused on voluntary compliance rather than policies, in the process missing key targets and making it impossible to meet our Kyoto obligations.
“With the Kyoto deadline period of 2008 to 2012 close at hand, the glaring evidence from our relentless emissions growth is forcing Canadian politicians to admit that compliance with Kyoto is impossible — an outcome that a foreign delegate at a recent international meeting referred to as ‘Canada’s sham’ to a roomful of nodding heads,” wrote Dr. Jaccard.
“The simplest and most efficient policy that Canada should consider is a gradually rising tax on emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
“If, however, our government feels that Canadians are not ready for the tax solution they can implement a few key ‘market-oriented regulations’ that approximate the tax signal.
“A carbon management standard, not greatly different from an emission cap and trade system, would require the fossil fuel industry to prevent a growing percentage of the carbon it extracts from reaching the atmosphere. This is likely to stimulate carbon capture and storage by fossil fuel producers and electricity generators. A vehicle emission standard.”
Dr. Jaccard believes standards would “…encourage an extreme lowering of vehicle emissions, more collaboration among industry, tightening energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances over a series of phases, and government subsidies for programs like public transit infrastructure, district energy systems, and efficiency improvements for low income housing.”
The meeting at the Path Gallery is $20, and will include food and refreshments, while the Community Forum on Meeting Whistler’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Targets is $5 at the door to cover the cost of renting the space.
For more information on the Whistler Forum, visit www.whistlerforum.com.