You characterize yourself as “a very mediocre economist.” How does a mediocre economist win the Nobel Peace Prize?
I was just one of hundreds who shared the prize for our collective work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I understand people and policy, and people and delusion, but I’m not a topnotch academic.
You understand delusion—what do you mean?
North America-wide polls reveal that most people think they are green consumers. There are so many books telling you how you can change your life and be green, but really the only way we can get there is by having laws and rules that prevent us from producing or emitting carbon.
Will carbon offsets help?
Quality research consistently shows that subsidies, like offsets, go significantly to “free-riders,” people and firms who get money for doing what they were going to do anyway. We must make things happen that were otherwise not going to happen and that require changes to prices (like a stronger carbon tax) and regulations (like building codes and vehicle standards) so that, for example, all homes get insulated. So when you think about buying an offset, I recommend instead sending your guilt money to organizations that are trying to change laws, like the Suzuki Foundation, the Pembina Institute, and PowerUp Canada.