CONS 425 – Sustainable Energy: Policy and Governance

For Term 2, 2015-16: This site provides information about last year’s version of the course. This year’s version will be structurally similar but will include changes in simulations and somewhat different topics. Syllabus will be finalized in December 2015

Term 2 2014-2015

This year the course will be using UBC Connect, but this webpage is maintained for those outside the course with an interest in the subject. Not all of the material has been updated to reflect this term’s course

Tuesday, Thursday 2-3:30
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January 6 version (website version is official)

George Hoberg
Professor, Department of Forest Resources Management
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Office Hours:  Tuesday 10-11, Wednesday 2-3

Teaching Assistants:

Gabrielle Schittecatte Alex Hemingway

This course examines sustainable energy policy and governance with a focus on western Canada. It focuses on the question of how policies and institutions should be changed to pursue a more sustainable energy path. It develops the argument that our current energy path is unsustainable, and that a shift to a more sustainable path is impossible without significant policy intervention. We examine the policy tools available for promoting this transition, and the governing structures and processes for selecting and implementing those tools.

The course contains three sections. First, it will analyze energy as a policy problem, focusing on demand, supply, and environmental constraints. The global and Canadian energy context will be surveyed briefly. Second, the governance framework for energy policy will be explored by examining the Canadian institutional and political environment, the legacy of past energy conflicts, and alternative policy instruments. The remainder of the course focuses on prominent issues and choices in sustainable energy policy:

  • the oil sands, including the proposed pipelines to take oil sands products to Asian and US markets;
  • the potential new LNG industry in BC;
  • filling the electricity supply gap in BC, including planning for the contingency of major new investments in liquefied natural gas, and the relative contributions of conservation and energy efficiency and renewables;
  • the role of nuclear power, if any, in a sustainable energy future.

The course will provide students a substantive understanding of energy policy in the context of policy analysis and Canadian politics. Specific learning objectives include:

  • A basic understanding of regional, national, and global energy systems
  • Concepts of energy sustainability
  • Alternative policy instruments relevant to energy policy
  • Governing institutions for Western Canadian energy policy
  • Interests, resources, and strategies of energy policy actors
  • Multiple criteria analysis
  • Environmental assessment
  • Attributes of energy alternatives

Course website:  UBC Connect

Required Materials:

There is no textbook to purchase for the course, but there will be a package of required course readings available for sale from the bookstore. The required readings for the course are on line, either through the internet or through UBC library. You can find them on the syllabus tab on the Connect website or under the “course units.”

You will need an i-clicker for this course, available from the bookstore (new or used).

Student will be assessed as follows:

  • midterm exam (20%) February 10
  • policy analysis quiz (5%) TBA
  • simulation of multistakeholder consultation on an energy controversy (25%)
  • final exam (45%)
  • participation – i-clicker and on-line surveys (5%)

Description of Simulations

Students will be required to participate in one of two simulations of multistakeholder consultations on a major western energy policy controversy:  designing a Canadian energy strategy or developing a regional plan for BC natural gas development. Each student will be assigned to an interest group or government agency involved in the case. Full details are available on the website.

The simulation accounts for 25% of your grade, components of which have been allocated and designed to stimulate both effective group and individual effort:

  • 10% for the group brief submitted March 24 not to exceed 2000 words. This is a group project, which clearly and concisely presents the group’s initial position on how to revise the rules. It should contain references.
  • 5% for each student’s participation in the group. This grade will be based predominately on the recommendations for grades that students provide of each other.
  • 10% for the performance of each group in the consultation, to be held in the evening (5 to 9) in the week of March 23 or March 30.

Schedule of Lectures and Readings (supplementary readings for your voluntary enrichment and are NOT required for course):