Project Summaries 2010-2011 - Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) - British Columbia Office

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The New Climate Marketplace: Assessing the Consumer Impacts of Carbon Pricing, Incentives and Alternatives


Taking climate change seriously will have profound impacts on consumers and the marketplace. Already, governments have begun the process of developing targets and timelines for climate action, and are launching policies and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For consumers, a new “green” industrial revolution offers both new possibilities (like electric vehicles) and perils (such as much higher electricity prices). CCPA of BC is co-leading a major research collaboration with the University of British Columbia, in partnership with 25 academic researchers and 40 community partners, called the Climate Justice Project: Paths to a Sustainable and Equitable BC Economy. The overarching aim of the project is to develop a policy strategy that would see BC meets its climate change obligations while ensuring a smooth transition, with a focus on low-income (vulnerable) consumers.

As a component of the CCPA’s larger Climate Justice Project, this consumer-oriented project, will examine a range of instruments for climate change mitigation, with a view towards better understanding how transformative change to a low-carbon society will affect the marketplace and specific populations within society, including implications for low-income households and consumers.

The project offers an opportunity to analyze and evaluate real-world climate policies, such as carbon taxes, subsidy programs and standards and regulation – from a consumer perspective. In particular, BC’s Climate Action Plan contains a mix of carbon pricing, subsides, public infrastructure and regulations, but consumer impacts are still poorly understood. Using BC as a case study, the project will look at the effectiveness of different policy options in influencing low-income consumer behaviour towards reducing emissions. The focus of the research will be to determine the distributional impacts that these policies have, particularly with regard to low-income households and consumers from vulnerable groups. Finally, the project will explore policy strategies and alternatives that would allow the province to meet climate targets, while at the same time address equity issues in the design of policies and programs.

Expected Outcome

The expected outcomes of this project are: research that documents the distributional effects of current climate policies and market-based instruments aimed at changing consumer behaviour.