Carbon Pricing and its Effect on Mobility and Social Exclusion in Canada

  • Author / Creator
    Reynard, Darcy C
  • In Canada, federal and provincial governments have implemented carbon pricing to reduce carbon emissions. One effect of a price on carbon is increasing the cost of using private vehicles, which may reduce mobility and increase the risk of social exclusion, especially where car dependence is high. In this thesis, I examine how carbon pricing in Canada has affected mobility and social exclusion. Across three academic articles, I answer two questions. First, how have governments in Canada considered the effect of carbon pricing on mobility and social exclusion? Second, what effect has carbon pricing actually had on mobility and social exclusion in Canada?
    Chapter 2 demonstrates a method that uses Natural Language Processing to identify text on mobility and social exclusion from over 400 Canadian government documents on carbon pricing. Topics relating to equity often receive little mention in government documents about carbon pricing, making them hard to find using manual techniques. Latent Dirichlet Allocation is employed to find text about mobility and social exclusion, and determine which documents are most likely to contain them. To find text that represents mobility and social exclusion, word vectors are used to score the Latent Dirichlet Allocation topics. The algorithms accurately find the topics of interest. This technique can be applied to large textual corpora to find specified concepts and topics. The returned documents make up the corpus for the framing analysis conducted in Chapter 3.
    In Chapter 3, I analyze how municipal governments in Canada frame the challenges of climate change and examine whether they link these challenges to issues of mobility and social exclusion. Focusing on planning documents from four large, Canadian cities—Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Vancouver—I identify four main frames: “the Growing City”, “If You Build It, They Will Come”, “Better City for All”, and “the Resilient City”. The Growing City frame, dominant in Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg, is used to support status quo urban development, with climate mitigation options included for more concerned residents. Conversely, Vancouver uses the Resilient City frame to indicate that climate mitigation and adaption strategies are essential for all citizens. Social exclusion is not explicitly addressed in the frames, although it is presented as a reason to support building alternative transportation or more public spaces. Social exclusion receives little consideration as a potential consequence of climate mitigation policies.
    In Chapter 4, a zero-inflated negative binomial model is used to determine how the price of carbon in Canada has affected the amount of time residents spend away from home in a social setting. Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey – Time Use from 2005, 2010, and 2015 is used to model changes in individual behaviour. According to the model, the price of carbon in Canada has not had a significant effect on the number of minutes an individual spends away from home in a social setting. There are three possible explanations for this finding. First, the price on carbon has been too low to elicit a significant change. Second, individuals have changed car use behaviours so that time spent socializing was maintained. Third, alternative transportation in urban areas was sufficiently well developed that car use could be reduced without impacting social exclusion.
    In the three articles, I show that: 1) there is a disconnect between the three levels of government in Canada with respect to carbon pricing policy. Federal and provincial governments enact carbon pricing policy but the provision of everyday services is left to municipal governments. 2) Carbon pricing had little effect on mobility or social exclusion in Canada up to 2015. To address these points, governments in Canada need to work together in providing alternative mobility options to residents or the ability to access more of their needs with less mobility. For instance, higher levels of government must not only fund new transit infrastructure, but also provide long-term operating funding. All levels of government working together is critical because the price of carbon in Canada must continue to increase to help meet international obligations and mitigate the effects of climate change. An increasing price on carbon means individuals will have to make more difficult lifestyle changes. These changes mean individuals will require more support in order to avoid unintended, negative consequences, like social exclusion.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.