Tort Litigation and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Changing the Climate of Opinion

Slaw.ca Legal Ethics Column, June 6, 2019.

Found online at: http://www.slaw.ca/2019/06/06/tort-litigation-and-greenhouse-gas-emissions-changing-the-climate-of-opinion/

Climate change is probably the single greatest threat to the security and prosperity of Canadians, as well as the rest of the human race. The most effective, least painful way to mitigate climate change is to impose a price on greenhouse gases worldwide, either through carbon taxes or tradable emission permits. However, carbon pricing is as politically difficult as it is economically efficient. In most countries, voters and political leaders have so far refused to support prices high enough to keep the risk of catastrophic climate change within an acceptable band. In Canada, there is also real risk that the federal carbon pricing backstop will be derailed on constitutional grounds. Continue reading

Dealing with Climate Change “Losers.”

The Windsor Star, July 15, 2014.

Full text: http://blogs.windsorstar.com/opinion/dealing-with-climate-change-losers

How can politicians move climate policy forward?  “Dealing with losers” is a big part of the answer.

Last month, Stephen Harper joined the other G7 leaders in calling for “urgent and concrete action” to address climate change. We should expect our Prime Minister to take climate change seriously, because it’s probably the gravest long-term threat to Canada’s security and prosperity. Here in Windsor, heat waves and declining water levels are among the serious problems partially attributable to global warming.
President Barack Obama has mandated significant reductions from the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions in his country. Will Prime Minister Harper be able to do likewise with Canada’s oil and gas sector, and with consumers’ transportation and home energy emissions?

A new book from Professor Michael Trebilcock, of the University of Toronto, can help our Prime Minister do so.  In Dealing with Losers: the Political Economy of Policy Transitions, Trebilcock shows that even the wisest policy changes create “losers.”  The key message of the book is that leaders must mitigate the opposition of those who stand to lose from policy change. Trebilcock proves this with examples from fields like public pension reform and agricultural supply management, in addition to carbon pollution control.

Continue reading