Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Universities and Climate Change

Posts from Berkeley's Severin Borenstein usually interest me; the latest particularly so as it relates to a couple of issues I write on.
The first is implementing carbon pricing where it's possible to do so - and the point is made that universities make great candidates.

What’s a University to do about Climate Change? | Energy at Haus:
...university action against climate change should start at home, with a campus carbon tax. All expenditures by campus units would be assessed a tax based on the GHG emissions associated with whatever they are buying or activity they are supporting. Of course, that raises issues like how large the tax should be and who should get the money, which I return to below."
The idea is brilliant. First, it avoids the hypocritical appearance of the divestment movement, marking fossil fuel producers as evil polluters while happily continuing to consume their product. Second, it puts real incentives in place to reduce GHG emissions and sets a price against which reduction strategies can be compared. Third, and probably most valuable, it makes the campus grapple with all the difficult real-world issues that come with trying to implement cost-effective national or global policy for carbon reduction. In doing so, it creates teachable moments that could fill many courses and inter-disciplinary research projects.
Read the entire article at Energy at Haus

I've written on one area where carbon pricing can be introduced easily - Ontario's electricity system.

From my Ontario perspective, "hypocritical" is something our largest universities are doing well, and "grabbling" with issues of higher energy costs something they are avoiding neatly.

Ontario's "class A" global adjustment system has applied to users with an average monthly peak consumption over 5000 kilowatts. I'm seen reference to the University of Western Ontario being a "Class A" institution, and I've heard that the University of Toronto and the University of Ottawa also are. If true, their "grappling" with high energy costs includes avoiding costs by shifting them to less gluttonous electricity consumers.
The Ontario government is lowering the threshold to 3000 kilowatts in adjusting what they refer to as the "Industrial Conservation Initiative."

First we could use some disclosure of the entities getting the price break. I've never seen any admission the "industrial" break goes to MUSH sector entities - essentially a tax on other ratepayers to fund government spending.
Secondly, entities that are Class A should not be eligible for government funding related to electricity sector studies. It appears we are paying for some scholars, via electricity bills, to condescend on electricity consumption.

Related: Lifting and Shifting Electricity Cost | Tom Adams Energy
Fresh from the election of Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) architect Don McCabe as prez of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), that organization is turning its formidable lobbying capacities to the issue of electricity costs, now rising for farmers and non-farmers alike as a direct result of the introduction of the GEA. 
- continue reading at Tom Adams Energy

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