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Book Review - The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success: Overcoming Myths that Hinder Progress

Tom Hackney, BCSEA Policy Advisor
Thursday, June 18, 2020

Book Review by Tom Hackney, BCSEA Policy Advisor

The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success: Overcoming Myths that Hinder Progress

by Dr. Mark Jaccard

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a tough, informed assessment of the most critical policies to tackle climate change effectively.

In a field full of misinformation, bias, naïve optimism, frustration, and cynicism, Jaccard manages to lay out a credible approach for countries and the global community to make big cuts in their emissions.

The Citizen’s Guide is full of information and insights from Jaccard’s 30+ years as a top-notch researcher and professor at Simon Fraser University. In that time, he advised a succession of governments on climate action policy. His consulting firm developed models to measure the effects of climate action policies, including modeling for BC’s carbon tax and its 2008 climate action plan. He has published over 100 papers and was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2009. He has served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and in 2012 was arrested for blocking a train exporting coal to Asia.

Jaccard’s approach in Citizen’s Guide insists on allowing for human biases:

“[W]e need to understand the combined role of self-interested and wishful thinking biases that prevent us from acting effectively and strategically. Fossil fuel and other interests delude us about climate science or try to convince us that every new fossil fuel investment is beneficial. But even climate-concerned people propagate myths that hinder progress, holding to beliefs that all countries will agree voluntarily on sharing the cost of global decarbonization; that carbon offsets are effective; that behavioral change is critical; that energy efficiency and renewable energy are cheap; and that carbon taxes are absolutely essential.”

Despite these self-inflicted barriers and humanity’s long history of climate failure, he gives a credible path forward:

“[W]e must strategically focus our efforts as citizens on a few key domestic sectors (especially electricity and transportation), a few key policies (regulations and/or carbon pricing); and the identification and election of climate-sincere politicians. As leading countries decarbonize their domestic electricity and transportation sectors, they must use various measures, including carbon tariffs, to ensure that their efforts spill over to affect the efforts of all countries.”

 

Citizen’s Guide is downloadable, free, from Cambridge University Press, or available through your local bookstore for about $25.

Warning: This book may provoke an uncomfortable urge to take action.