Cutting Canada's carbon emissions: an interview with Dave Sawyer
Subscribe to Hard Truths:
Gen Squeeze TikTok Gen Squeeze Instagram

Episode 8: Cutting Canada's carbon emissions: an interview with Dave Sawyer

July 27, 2022

Listen on


Megan (00:05):

Hi, my name is Megan.

Umair (00:07):

And I'm Umair.

Megan (00:08):

And you are listening to Generation Squeeze’s, Hard Truths podcast.

Umair (00:13):

Megan, this is the first time you're serving as a cohost of the podcast, right?

Megan (00:17):

Yes, it is.

Umair (00:18):

Of course, as the producer of the podcast, you've always had a crucial role in its creation, but maybe we should tell the listeners a little bit about you.

Megan (00:29):

Sure. I, I started working on the podcast as an intern and now I am Gen Squeeze's communications lead.

Umair (00:36):

Wow. Quite the upgrade.

Megan (00:38):


Umair (00:41):

All right. Well, in this episode of the podcast, we will be chatting with Dave Sawyer. Dave is an environmental economist who has held positions with environment Canada, as well as with the commissioner of environmental sustainable development.

Megan (00:57):

And he's currently a school fellow at Carleton university's school of public policies and an executive in residence with the smart prosperity Institute at the university of Ottawa. And we must say that Dave also heavily contributes to Gen Squeeze's climate crisis work.

Umair (01:14):

You know, especially in the past few years, it seems like many of the people who've come to know of us. See us mainly as an organization that focuses on housing issues. But of course, housing is just one of the issues we work on.

Megan (01:29):

Absolutely our real interest is in promoting Generational fairness and the climate crisis is one of the greatest interGenerational injustices of our time, because it will largely be our Generation's kids and grandkids that have to deal with its impacts

Umair (01:44):

In the interview. You're about to hear we chat with Dave about Gen Squeeze's climate solutions framework and the platform analysis work that we do. We also have a wide ranging discussion about pricing carbon.

Megan (01:57):

So we talked with Dave on Tuesday, July 19th. We began asking him about the federal government's proposals to set up a new cap and trade system that would help regulate emissions from the oil and gas sector.

Umair (02:11):

Before jumping into the interview, we do want to say Gen Squeeze is a non-partisan organization. We seek to work with people, parties, and policy makers from across the political divide.

Megan (02:26):

So while our guests will air a range of perspectives on this podcast, we want to be clear that Gen Squeeze does not necessarily endorse their views. And we'll continue to invite people from across different spectrums to join our conversations.

Umair (02:40):

All right. That all sounds good. Let's get to the interview

Megan (02:49):

In the news this week, the federal environment minister, Steven Guilbeault just unveiled a proposal to set up a new cap and trade system targeting the oil and gas sector. And the goal is to lower emissions from the oil and gas sector 40% by 2030. I wonder if you could help us understand how this new system's going to work and how is it different than what we currently have in Canada?

Dave Sawyer (03:14):

Yeah, so I mean, in Canada, greenhouse gas emissions, and you know, our emission reduction aspirations have always been a function of rising oil and gas emissions. So the oil and gas sector in Canada takes up a large chunk of our total emission inventory. Typically, most other sectors buildings, other industry transportation emissions have been rising or falling or been stable. And a lot of our emissions growth can be tied to the oil and gas sector. So therefore, any emission success around targets around 2030 or net zero beyond really need to factor in oil and gas emissions, which account for almost a third of our, our total emissions. So what did Minister Steven Guilbeault do this week? So a discussion paper was put out that basically responded to some campaign promises that I did work with Gen Squeeze to look at the liberal platform in the last two federal elections and including the last federal election where the government started rolling out, or the liberal party started rolling out, some proposals.


And one of those proposals was an oil and gas cap. And that is basically to put a limit on the emissions coming from the oil and gas sector on a trajectory between now and 2030 that gets us emission reductions consistent with, with the national target. So the discussion paper this week proposes two big options. So Megan, as you, as you said, one option is a new cap trade system. So what's a cap trade system. So Quebec has a cap trade system right now they've had one since 2013. And basically that sets an absolute limit on the emissions that the province will will allow. And that then target is allocated down to sectors ultimately. So to the manufacturing sector and to emitters ultimately in the form of allowable units to pollute, and basically what happens is you shrink, you, you create scarcity, you shrink the number of permits that then drives up prices, which then values pollution, and then you allow people to buy and sell and come up with bargains basically to, you know, one person can reduce a lot of emissions at a certain cost.


Someone else has a higher cost, so maybe they'll enter into a bargain and buy those emission reductions. So that's one of the proposals on the table is to, is to cap emissions. The other proposal on the table in that discussion paper is to look at the current Alberta carbon pricing system, which is enabled under the federal backstop system, meaning it it's equivalent and the federal government approves it. And I can explore that in a second, but, but basically in that current system, they have a way it's called a ratcheting factor, but they basically have a way that they're gonna tighten down the limit on emissions. And they're basically gonna say to the oil and gas sector, okay, we're gonna use the existing system. We're gonna require that on a year, over year basis, you have to reduce more emissions or your compliance obligation. The tons that you're allowed to omit gets tighter and tighter and tighter, and that'll drive up prices and that'll basically drive a bunch of technology deployment. So yeah, those are the two big sort of systems on the table.


Megan (06:30):

And what do you think of them as do you lean towards one over the other?

Dave Sawyer (06:35):

Yeah, they're trade offs. The, the big trade off right now is we have an existing system that the oil and gas sector is living within. And that system is nestled in a broader large emitter program that has an Alberta anyway, and, and well coast to coast and every single jurisdiction, there are large emitter programs. It's one, it's one type of carbon pricing in the country focused on the really big industrial emitters. And one of the challenges is, is that you have that system already operating where the oil and gas sector is integrated and trading with with other large emitters. And if you carve out a new system, you're, you're basically limiting the ability to get gains from trade. So there's a, there's a large sector there. And if you sort of put a ring fence around them and create an island it doesn't allow for really cost effective solutions where they could perhaps sell into the other large emitting programs or their, to the other large emitter, excuse me, or buy.

So there's inefficiency problems with basically carving out a new system and, and, you know, the oil and gas sector is so important to that market and to the sort of allowing for efficient emission reductions and trades to happen that a whole new system carved out might lead to some problems. And then the beauty of using the current system is that you can just literally get it done overnight. You, you can basically set a new regulatory limit in existing federal and ultimately Alberta regulations. And that then sets the new standard for, for the facilities. And we can't underestimate how complex these systems are. I was involved in designing and working with Ontario on their cap trade program. And we had a PowerPoint presentation of 122 pages. And each page had a very detailed description on a single design element that had to be discussed and basically worked out.

And of course, those design elements, you could look to other jurisdictions like Quebec right now to get the idea about what to do there, but you can't underestimate the administrative complexity and then the timing to get this thing implemented. So I think that, and the, and the new administrative structure to do this system. So I think, you know, cap and trade, very supportive of it in Ontario, very supportive of it right now in, in Nova Scotia and Quebec. But really transitioning the current system to that is, is, is fraught with some challenges.

Megan (09:03):

Could you explain more about how the provinces and the federal government, what is the dynamic there of reducing emissions and mitigating climate change?

Dave Sawyer (09:14):

Yeah. Right. So, so on the emissions side, the federal government and the provincial governments had share, have shared jurisdiction over energy and emissions. So the federal, the federal government can act independently and the provinces can act independently. And so what we've had historically, as we've had a, a federal government that was lagging effort before the Trudeau government came in in 2015 in the Paris era around more climate ambition before then we had a really sort of stuttering federal government on taking action and an unwillingness to implement big broad policies to cover emissions and drive down emissions, ultimately. And, and so what you had emerging because of the shared jurisdiction is you had various provinces leading and various provinces lagging. So leading provinces would include in 2007 or 2008, British Columbia's carbon tax, which is still in existence today. It's a model for, you know, basically the world.

Lots of people have always been interested in the BC carbon tax. We have large industrial pricing in Alberta in 2007, which is actually the first major carbon pricing program in the country. That's right. Oil and gas has been under carbon pricing since 2007. So that's 15 years of carbon pricing in the oil and gas sector, whether or not we got significant reductions out of it, that's a design issue. But you know, that industrial, that program is now being used coast to coast now. And it's the basis of the federal large emitter program and yeah, and it's being adopted elsewhere. And then Quebec in 2013, cap trade was implemented in, in cooperation with California under the Western climate initiative. So linked, linked trade between the jurisdictions, the Ford government then killed cap and trade in Ontario. And then now we have the federal government where we're basically, we have 80% of our emissions covered by carbon pricing with the new, with the new federal carbon pricing backstop requiring the provinces to meet a standard. If they meet a standard, they can have their own program. So yeah, that's basically the long twisted history.

Megan (11:27):

Yeah. Well, and I wonder if you could clarify, just in case any of our listeners aren't familiar with, with some of those terms, like, what is the, the layman's version of carbon pricing versus cap and trade? What are the differences between those systems?

Dave Sawyer (11:41):

Yeah, so I mean, the, the way to think about this is one is limiting quantities and, and one is quantities of emissions, that's cap and trade. So we're gonna limit emissions. We're gonna create scarcity by, by basically setting the limit on total allowable emissions below what you're gonna do otherwise. So if I'm emitting 10 emissions, 10 units, we're gonna set your cap at eight emissions, you've gotta reduce or buy two emissions from somebody. And so that's cap and trade. And basically you create a market for pollution allowances to be sold and, and to be held, and then used in compliance to hit your sort of individual target. So that overall cap is allocated right down to the facility level. And it ends up in the consumer's hands as a price increase. It looks exactly like the carbon tax cuz the fuel distributors have to hold the allowances, the permits, which they have to buy and then they pass on the price.

And so that's how we see it. So from a consumer perspective, their identical systems in, in terms of the signal we see when we're standing at the pump, if we don't have an EV or if we have an EV and depending on the emission intensity of the electricity we see the same price R roughly and then, and then carbon pricing is really simple. We, we basically figure out how many units of pollution are in a lit of gasoline or a leader of fossil fuels. And we set a rate on that and then prices rise and people respond accordingly.

Umair (13:08):

I just want to, to go back a bit on the jurisdictional question cuz it, it can be quite messy, right? And so in response to this latest proposal or set of proposals, we've gotten a joint statement from the Alberta ministers of energy and environment. And maybe I'll quote that and, and get your response. Dave, they say Alberta will not accept any plan from the federal government that seeks to interfere in our constitutionally protected ability to develop our resources. Provinces are the owners of these natural resources, which have been responsibly managed on behalf of Canadians for decades.

Dave Sawyer (13:50):

Yeah. So I mean, this issue is settled by the Supreme court. So the right leaning political governments sitting in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan took the federal government to the Supreme court. The Supreme court said, yes, in fact, the federal government can under certain conditions can price pollution, can price carbon in, in, in the country. So that's an interesting statement coming out of, out of Alberta. I mean, when you talk about a cap on the oil and gas sector, a lot of people read that as, and the politicians can twist that as a cap on production. Now, if the federal government chose to cap the level of barrels that could be produced or cubic meters of natural gas, the Supreme court would say, no, no, you, you don't have jurisdiction over the quantity of production, but you do have jurisdiction over emissions. So it ha it basically the decisions were upheld.

And, and so the federal government, you know, has a latitude to, to move here, but politics gets messy so that legally they can do it, but politics gets messy because suddenly you have a federal government getting really aggressive on one sector in the economy, one set of large emitters and albeit a very important one and frankly, a fairly wealthy one as a rule with lots of technological, know how to basically reduce emissions, incredibly smart group of people to solve this sort of problem. And so politically it is, it is just a big old fight and, and that will continue and there will be messaging, but ultimately the federal government has the levers to, to basically do it. And then if, if the provinces don't like the form of that, they can take them to court again, which maybe they will,

Megan (15:39):

You know, we've talked a lot about how this targets the oil and gas sector, which I think, did you say that was about a third of, of

Dave Sawyer (15:45):


Megan (15:45):

The total missions, what's the status of the other big emitters and those other sectors that also need to cut back on emissions?

Dave Sawyer (15:55):

Yeah. So, so the first way to think about this is sort of 80% of our national emissions just under 80% are now covered by carbon pricing. The 20% that are not covered are, are typically never covered by these programs. So they're typically like land use emissions, you know, forestry emissions. And so typically these emissions are, you know, so you think about Manitoba, you know, half of their, their emissions come roughly half come from land use emissions and half come from energy. So their coverage of the emissions with carbon pricing looks really low, oh, it's only 50%, 56% of their emissions. But in fact, they're covering all their energy emissions. So coast to coast, we have all of our energy emissions covered. And, and so that's a good thing. And then that includes other large emitters sitting in, in basically they're called output based pricing systems.

And it's a little different than the carbon tax system. And it's a little more complex. But basically there's special allocations made for competitiveness reasons. So these are typically the emission intensive and trade exposed facilities. You use, you use sectoral economic and emission data against some tests to identify whether or not they meet thresholds around being really a mission intensive and trade exposed. And the idea is because you have misaligned carbon pricing. So we have carbon pricing in Canada and not the us. We do most of our trade in the us. If we're disadvan our firms with higher prices, we lose markets share in home markets, Canada and away markets. The us, us producers fill the gap, but they emit more. And what happens is we're worried about emission leakage and production leakage. So the idea being that, you know, CO2 is a global pollutant and you know, there's no location specific sort of, of impact.

It's just global. So if emissions rise somewhere else, because we're pricing our emissions here, we've just lost jobs in investment and we haven't necessarily reduced emissions. So that's why these programs exist and they give sort of special exemptions for, for the facilities. I like to think of it as sort of the carbon action rebate that most Canadians get from the federal government. At least if you're, you know, sitting some somewhere that's some provincial programs don't give money back British Columbia reduced taxes. So people don't personal income taxes don't see that reduction in income tax, but Generally like in Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, people get a check back from the government or a tax reduction on our income taxes. And it's the same sort of idea. It's a little different, but the idea is that I want you to pay the price on pollution when you have the pump in your hand, but I'm gonna give you the money back in your wallet. That's unrelated to how much fuel you use. So basically, so your pocketbook, your household income is left more or less neutral, but you are thinking about the cost of gas and the carbon tax when you're pumping. So it's the same sort of idea with the large emitter programs.

Megan (19:00):

Ah, that's interesting. You brought that up because I had actually heard you a few years ago on planet money back in the us, and you were being interviewed about Pigouvian taxes <laugh> and I think you, you, you were the person they came to describe that…

Dave Sawyer (19:15):

It's a bribe.

Megan (19:16):

Yeah. I wonder if you could tell me more about—I don't wanna get too technical—but like how that's supposed to work?

Dave Sawyer (19:23):

Yeah. I mean the, in the pian tax, it's just basically the carbon price. You basically just wanna raise the relative prices of a bad. So in this case, fossil fuels and the carbon content of fossil fuels, and you basically want to, yeah, you wanna send a price signal that it's more valuable and you need to manage it. I mean, that's really the basis of a Pigouvian tax. And because, because you transmit it broadly across all emitters, you send the, a consistent signal across everybody so that if you want to continue to pump gas, you can, if you wanna buy an EV, because you think it, it pays for you, then you buy an EV. And so the idea with these taxes is a broad, broadly applied taxes, more efficient. You can achieve your objectives at lower cost, to the extent that more people see the same price signal, it's when you start sort of applying limited price signals to some exemptions on emissions, like right now, the, the federal system exempts and most provincial systems resent exempts on farm diesel fuel.

So that's to help the farmers out well. So, so there's no price signal sitting there. They're not gonna reduce their emissions because there's no price signal. So you've exempted them and you've diminished the efficiency and the effectiveness of the carbon price. Cause you could have got cheaper emission reductions and more emission reductions. So that's how the Pigou tax basically works.

The interesting bit is what do you do with the revenue? And so from an efficiency perspective, we really don't care. We just care about that initial sort of, okay, is there a broad based unified price signal, but then you Generate all this cash. And it's basically a transfer in the system and who gets, who gets that cash. And typically economists are agnostic on what you do within, they would prefer income taxes to be reduced. So there's something called a dead weight loss.

It's a great economics term or the marginal public cost of funds, basically that says when you tax people, you, you basically add drag on the economy and inefficiencies. And so the economists are like, well, you should tax offset like British Columbia did, you should raise the carbon price, reduce personal and corporate income taxes. We, why are we taxing labor? We want more labor, so we should reduce labor taxes. So, so people work more cuz that's what they want to do sometimes. So, so you know, and that economists like that, cuz it, it, it deals with that tax and efficiency, but politicians don't care sometimes, but efficiency and they care about the bribe. And so the federal government basically threw money at everybody to accept the carbon price. And it worked, I totally worked. It went away as an issue is a pocketbook issue except for a small, I would a small minority within the country and then Quebec and most jurisdictions also choose to use the revenue to subsidize emission reducing technology. So that's another way to sort of deal with the, you know, so you reinforce the carbon signal by providing incentives for building retrofits or you buy charging, charging networks to, to deal with sort of, you know, to help with EV rollout. So yeah, how you'd use the revenue is a big political question, but economist is less interested in that.

Umair (22:28):

Just for our listeners who may not have heard the term Pigouvian tax, it's named after a British economist named Arthur Pigou. I think he was around in the early 20th century. Dave, you probably know if that's correct?

Megan (22:42):

I think he was the first, he was the first economics professor at, at Cambridge is what I remember from.

Dave Sawyer (22:47):

Yeah. I knew him personally. I'm that old.

Umair (22:50):


Dave Sawyer (22:52):

I worked with him in the twenties, Gen Squeeze…I don't know. And so if your listeners are interested, in fact, this is sort of first year economic, environmental economics, master's level coast guy named Coase, the Coase theorem, illustrated that basically if you enter into a bargain, you can have a win-win situation where you're trading basically pollution permits. So cap trade systems are based on this guy, Coase, and carbon tax systems are based on this, this guy Pigou, and basically they're two ways of sort of reducing emissions and the theory underscores basically these two systems, but what's really interesting in the real world is that we actually have systems like this large emitter system that deals with prices and quantities and they, they hybrid, they hybrid cap and trade and carbon prices. And in fact, the, the Alberta system right now is a hybrid system, has a limit on your emission intensity, the emissions per unit of production, that's going down in time. And then it has a price that we basically send that you, you know, sends the price signal. And so there it's called a hybrid system. So in reality it's not neither or,

Umair (24:05):

And coast for anyone who's wondering, because I was wondering and had to look it up is spelled C O A S E.

Dave Sawyer (24:12):

Right. Right.

Umair (24:13):

Okay. So that's a fair bit that we've had to discuss, you know, just out of the proposal, that's come out from the federal government, but I was wondering if we could take a step back and, and chat a bit about the Gen Squeeze side of things. So you've already hinted at a bit of this Dave, so maybe we can jump, jump a bit more into it, but could you tell us a little bit about some of the, the work that you've done over the years? Which Generation Squeeze?

Dave Sawyer (24:43):

Yeah, sure. So, so I mean, Gen Squeeze is great. I really enjoyed working with Gen Squeeze on basically, you know, we, we, we have a framework about how to assess the federal policies from a really comprehensive view. So in that, in the Gen Squeeze framework about on climate change, it's not just about reducing emissions, you know, like what we're talking about right now, but it's also about leaving no one behind. So just transition, you know, is, is, is a category in there where you wanna look at the, the federal political platforms and see what the parties are saying on just transition. You wanna see what the political parties are saying on impacts and adaptation. Some of the work I've been doing now on, on the costs of climate change in Canada, some of the, sort of the economic costs are really stark as we start to roll out into the future in a changing climate.

So the, the British Columbia storms of 2021 are getting more frequent and more intense and taking out more assets. So the Gen Squeeze framework says, okay, what are the, what, what are the platforms doing an adaptation? And I think what was really interesting about having this comprehensive framework that Gen Squeeze has is that it, it put a spotlight on the deficiencies in federal political thinking around adaptation, for example, around just transition. So you would have significant holes and political platforms that are just not, you know, congruent with the needs of, of, of sort of how to transition to a, you know, low carbon climate resilient economy. So yeah, I really enjoyed working with Gen Squeeze over the last two sort of federal elections. And I did some work in Ontario and what's really stark is that the provincial platforms are incredibly weak compared to the federal platforms. The federal platforms are quite comprehensive. They're quite smart as a rule. They're ticking a lot of boxes, but the provincial platforms are absolutely deficient. And I think that's somewhere that Gen Squeeze needs to go and can go and, and really be helpful, you know, pull, pull, pulling, or pushing along the, the, the provinces.

Umair (26:41):

So Gen Squeeze has a very detailed climate plan that offers a set of solutions. And the goal of the plan is to hold average, global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius while at the same time improving the lives and livelihoods of everyday Canadians. So I guess I I'd wanna ask to start off with how is that possible, like the, the fact that we can take substantive action on climate change while also ensuring that people's livelihoods improve. I mean, doesn't action on climate require sacrifices.

Dave Sawyer (27:19):

So there's a couple ways to think about this. I, I used to argue we needed, we, we needed a Tim bit tax. So if we had have implemented 20 years ago, a 25 or 30 cent carbon tax, and slowly increased it in time to get to $30 today, cost would've been minimal in terms of the transition. So delay is costly. So to the extent that we delay action and we don't send price signals now and set expectations to, to people, you know, when you're buying a new car or you're changing out your furnace, or you're building a new oil sand facility, people need to believe that their carbon is gonna be expensive and needs to be managed in time. And so what does this mean? Going out to the future? Well, net zero, 10 years away, if I buy a car today that car's gonna be around 2035 oil sands facilities, pipelines, large industrial facilities, even furnaces are 12 years along.

So if we're buying natural gas furnaces today, and we want to get aggressive on climate policy in 2028, because suddenly we realize we're really, really screwed, not just totally screwed, but that's another story wildfires in BC, floods, ENTs. So to the extent you can't, you, you, you don't change those decisions. It gets very expensive to knock out that productive capital and cost rise. So that's sort of how to think that's the, that's the first way to think about it. The second way to think about it is that a lot of these technologies are just cheaper and they don't change sort of the level of service they give us. So think about L E D light bulbs, L E D light bulbs are now ubiquitous three, four years ago. Like we just banned them. I think the incandescent bulbs, I'm gonna say it was under the Harper government.

It was 2013, 14. There were banned. There's still a few, some around a few years ago. Now, L E D light bulbs are everywhere. Hasn't really changed or lighting and it's reduced costs. Significantly electric vehicles are the same sort of thing. So there are, there are savings to be had. And then of course, there's the green transition around industrial policy and being able to win in a global environment in a global competitiveness environment. And so we looked at, I call them the, the, the low carbon Gazelle's. So these are low carbon technologies and exports that are, that we can look into Canadians trade data, Canada's trade data and say, okay, these categories are, you know, electric forklifts. This is, you know, biofuels clean electricity exports, EVs substances to make solar panels. So we identified sort of 150 of these categories. And we took a look at them from 2014, two, 2019.

They outperformed the broader sort of basket of trade by a factor of three. So they're growing at 10% year over year. Some of these things were growing at 80, 90% year, over year relative to the General sort of trend in exports. So we talk about the green economy and we say, oh, well, in the future, it's gonna be better off. But actually when we look at what's going on, now, we have all these sort of bright lights, these Gazelle's taking off. So green industrial policy isn't really, can't be really sneezed at, I think, or not sort of dismissed as it's a future thing. I think we have to do a better job of tracking that stuff. Now,

Megan (30:35):

If I were to give you a magic wand, what do you think the most important things to change are about how Canada's approaching climate change? What three things would you do first?

Dave Sawyer (30:48):

So first I would, I would implement a really strinGent and you think I'm gonna say carbon tax, but I'm not, I'm gonna say really string strinGent accountability framework for good governance. So I would like to see a, the Canadian net zero accountability act is an amazing step in the right direction. British Columbia has climate accountability legislation as does Manitoba. I would like to see that all strengthened with much stronger reporting to parliament or the provincial legislatures. I would like to see routine stock taking, going on about, are we on track or not? And that, that would involve the provinces and the federal government sitting down on a routine basis to take a look at the policies, to take a look at the data about whether we're on track and then have independent oversight, like the auditor General, a commissioner of environment and sustainable development reporting to parliament or the legislature about whether we're on track or not, you know, legislative targets.

So if you look at what's going on globally, right now, there's a lot of, and in fact, in British Columbia I think west coast law is taking BC to court over, over inaction or, or being, being not compliant with their own legislation. I know Ontario eco justice has taken the Ontario government to court on behalf of seven youths. There's a great court action and I help support it, which is really fun, but seven youths taking the, the provincial government to court over an action. So that's what we get. So that's my one major ma magic wand, better, better climate accountability frameworks. Two is we go nuts on adaptation. We're chronically underspending on adaptation. We have to get really serious about it. It's not just the big storms in the floods. We have labor productivity, we have heat illness, we have smoke illness. We have you know, the damages just go on and on and on across all segments of the economy. And so all governments have to get way more serious on that. And then I think, you know, the hard one is political consensus. If we could get rid of the polarization, which I think is the hardest, one of all those. So those are my three, no carbon tax. We already have one, I don't need one. Let's go to $170. We're good.

Umair (33:02):

So there's a lot for our political leaders to do in your suggestions. I'm wondering for the people who are listening to this podcast, what would you ask of them to think about and to think about doing

Dave Sawyer (33:15):

Well? I, I can't tell you that the youth, the Gen Squeeze crowd to get more active, they're very active and it's great. They're much more active than my Generation, right? Again, I'm with Bagu in 1920. So, you know, I mean, marching in the streets and being politically active is a, is a good thing. Just can, can continue to, to do that. I think open your, your mind up a little bit to solutions though. One of the things I find with carbon policy, it's such a complex issue and the policy and the technology and the politics is that anytime somebody comes to you with comes to you with, Hey, I have the solution. Here's the idea. Think in your head, oh no, you don't, you don't understand the problem at all because you're too simplistic on this. So I'm not advocating, oh, it's so complex.

We can't do it, but just be aware of people saying, oh, here's the solution because there's lots of competing technologies for the same end use. So you think about long haul, trucking, hydroGen, electricity, biofuels efficiency and vehicles, they're all competing. We don't know which one's gonna win. So we have to be a little agnostic in our choices about incenting you know, the winners to emerge, like not pick winners, for example. So, and you know, it's like, oh, well, offshore turbines are the solution. Well, yeah, they're part of this solution, but they're not that solution. So that's one of the things I like to think about is if you think, you know, the answer in climate policy, pause and take stock, cuz chances are, you might have it wrong. So open your minds a little bit to solutions would, would, would be the other would be the other one.

Megan (34:51):

Thanks so much for tuning into Gen's Squeeze's Hard Truths podcast. In finishing up this episode, we want to highlight the fact that Gen Squeeze was actually involved in the Supreme Court case that Dave mentioned affirming the federal government's right to price pollution.

Umair (35:06):

That's right from 2019 to 2021, Gen Squeeze led a coalition of six organizations that intervened in court cases about pricing pollution first in Ontario and Saskatchewan, and then at the level of the Supreme court.

Megan (35:21):

Thanks for tuning into the podcast. If you haven't yet subscribed, please make sure you do so.

Umair (35:27):

Please also consider reviewing the podcast on Apple.

Megan (35:31):

Until next time.

Umair (35:33):


Inbox Insights: the angry folder
Cutting Canada's carbon emissions: an interview with Dave Sawyer
Check out Generation Squeeze. I just joined.
Hard Truths from Gen Squeeze
Hard Truths