A Few Thoughts on Week 39

Ended up with a climate/environmental lens this week.

  • Before we get to green stuff, this long piece on the Canadian Navy’s procurement of new warships is both interesting and horrifying. It may surprise some to know that I am a bit of a defense “hawk”, I believe that Canada has been most effective on the world stage when it had a viable military deterrent/option that enable flexibility from US foreign policy. We don’t really have that anymore…
  • A chart that didn’t make my mid-week post.
Chart showing carbon footprint of online versus in-store retail
  • The carbon footprint of online delivery (led by Amazon) is actually a good thing according to Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist, Cambridge Global Payments.
  • Changes to the Conservation authorities were not really covered locally, beyond a single story in the Star. There has been limited discussion on social media that I have observed and local political podcasts haven’t really talked about it either.
  • This past weekend the the majority of Greenbelt board resigned as led by the Chair and former PC member of David Crombie. Unfortunately our region doesn’t have a Conservation Authority ED/CEO, we might hear a bit more public discourse about this but we don’t.
    • From my understanding and the posting of numerous conservation authorities on the changes:
      • Losing the ability to issue stop work orders. So if endangered species or a violation were on a development project, there is no ability to force construction to stop without other interveners.
      • Prevent conservation authorities from appealing to the LPAT or becoming a party before it. They can still be engaged if a partner municipality appeals a decision and asks for the conservation authority to join them.
      • Changing the make up of conservation authority board of directors to require at least 70% of members being municipal councilor.
      • The ability for developers to appeal directly to the minister’s office for exemption to conservation authority permits.
      • Some other technical changes various enforcement issuing mandatory permits if certain criteria are met, as well as some Greenbelt specific ones (or not) depending on whos statement you take at face value.
    • What are some examples of what this could mean locally?
      • The Little River Flood Plan mapping currently underway – these change will impact the types of development in Sandwich South. In theory, developers could appeal to the Province to overrule lot coverages restrictions can conservation requirement, that could lead to future flooding while the conservation authority could not participate at the LPAT.
      • If the Raceway ever gets developed and endangered snakes are found on the construction site, conservation authority cannot for the stop of work on their own – provincial officials would likely have to get involved.
      • The South Cameron Woodlot – the marshland designation could be challenged allowing development and the Conservation Authority could not participate in the appeal.
      • Waterfront development on Lake Erie or St Clair, where high lake levels and erosion can prohibit certain kinds of development could see that development potentially move forward.
    • It would be interesting to hear what local PC candidates (here and here) think of these changes? Is this a handout to developers and destroy the environment as the NDP claim or is this a necessary change to enable construction of more housing?
  • A giant iceberg is going to kill penguins!!!!
  • On a happier note, Scotland names it’s snowplows!!!! Windsor MUST do this and I demand that City Councillors put this motion forward!!!!
  • On Friday the Government of Canadian released a climate plan (it is 70+ pages). This announcement was in the broader context of a UN Conference this past weekend where dozens of countries made commitments to new and more rigorous climate action.
    • Let’s start off, it is bold and one of the first plans that actually can achieve various climate goals IF fully implemented and followed through on.
    • The headline is of course the rise in the Carbon tax to $170 per ton (more on this in a bit) and what that will do to gas prices etc.
    • Beyond that there are billions dollars being recycled for:
      • Transit and automotive electrification with incentives for purchase and infrastructure.
      • Incentives and funding for homes, business, community, schools and gov’t building for renovations and green energy projects.
      • Strategies and funding for broader sectors (Manufacturing, Mining, Transportation etc.) greenhouse gas mitigation.
    • Some critiques have emerged of the plan (not necessarily mine):
      • It will make life utterly unaffordable for Canadians (completely debatable).
      • The plan doesn’t ban fracking or cancel oil pipeline project. It doesn’t.
      • The plan is missing a climate adaption strategy which will shore up the impacts of climate change which carry potentially massive and unknown costs.
      • It’s a deep state plot!
  • My old boss and economics professor at TRU, Joel Wood shared an updated chart that was originally in the Maclean’s Chartapoolza earlier this week.
  • The carbon tax equates to a 33 cent per litre increase in gas prices (over a 7 year period) might seem horrific except when you put it into context of gas prices today. First it will take a decade (2 more years of existing carbon tax increases plus $15 per year increase for 6 more years) to hit that level, giving time for people to make choices about behaviour. In Windsor we are going to build electric vehicles, so buy local.
    • The other thing we have to remember is that a 33 cent per litre gas price increase, brings us back to where it was in from 2011 through 2014. Currently gas is sitting about a $1/L, gas at $1.30-$1.40 were prices that we were paying in the not to distant past. The economy didn’t stop, it didn’t lead to the collapse of civilization, and people still drove places.
Data from GasBuddy.com
  • In fact, under the carbon tax, as the rate rises, lower and middle income households will get larger carbon tax credits, so unlike 2011-14, the government will be subsidizing those gas prices to a degree for drivers with tax rebates each year. If people drive a little less as a result, that is money in their pockets in the short term.
    • Short of a war in the Middle East (not entirely unlikely but certainly less likely under the Biden administration) we probably are not going to see massive spikes in gas prices outside of the carbon tax. If prices do rise, well it will be good for the Canadian (and Alberta) economy as a whole and through equalization Ontario will probably benefit.
    • Will it mean some localized pain, yes, but a carbon tax allows market forces to shift behaviour. People get the choice, do I use and pay a bit more or do I use less and save more money, and help the environment.
    • The following tweet (thread you should click on) is for Alberta but very illustrative (and also not centred which hurts my brain).
In case you are wondering Dr. Tombe is one of the leading finance and energy economists in Canada.
  • Happy lockdown for Christmas and New Years to all.
    • 28 days in Grey zone, sees our region being eligible to drop to a lower level on January 11th.
Izzy’s new perch!

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