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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Chasing fossil fuels in the food system Adams, Tegan Joan


A carbon tax has already been introduced in British Columbia, Canada. It is likely that other carbon regulations will come into play across the globe shortly. In all likelihood, with the introduction of a domestic agreement pricing emissions, there will be border tax adjustment or other similar policy response proposed. For example, as the European Union (EU) enters the next development phases for their Emissions Trading System, a border adjustment on GHG emissions, also known as a “Border Carbon Adjustment” (BCA) (Fisher and Fox 2009) is being considered. It may work to displace concerns related to domestic competitiveness and carbon leakage from the trade of outsourced goods (including for example food, clothing and cars). In the absence of an international agreement to account for monitoring, pricing or capping GHG emissions, Canada’s response to GHG emissions or Carbon regulations is challenging policy makers. This thesis explores the feasibility of implementing a BCA on a sample of whole foods imported to Canada. It uses numerical industry trade data to create a snapshot of hypothetical Carbon Tariff estimates that reflect GHG emissions from the production and transport of a sample of whole foods imported to Canada. It investigates methods for accounting GHG emissions, trade legalities in the food system and the idealized characteristics of BCA design; it concludes by suggesting a BCA or any other policy tool reliant on GHGe accounting standards could not easily or effectively be implemented as a worthwhile or counteracting response to potential undesirable effects of domestic carbon regulations in any country at this time (2011). Finally, this paper recommends future research in the areas of GHGe accounting standards, food system transparency, product labeling and municipal policy tools as means of reducing GHGe from food production, while avoiding the repercussions of carbon regulations.

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