New national climate institute hunts for a win-win-win on Canada’s low-carbon future

Mark Lowey
February 5, 2020

The federal government is investing $20 million over five years in a new climate change institute to assess Ottawa’s climate policies and provide advice on the best options.

The Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (CICC) launched in January with an inaugural 80-page report. It recommends that Canadian governments should expand the scope, scale and pace of climate policies, broaden policy objectives, and seek integrated solutions that drive multiple benefits.

“There’s a growing realization that we need to think more broadly about Canada’s response to the climate change challenge," David Layzell, professor and director of the Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research initiative at the University of Calgary, said in an interview with R$.

“We must not only consider strategies to reduce emissions but also strategies to adapt to climate change, and both of these need to be coupled to strategies for clean economic growth,” says Layzell, a member of one of the CCIC’s three expert panels.

Achieving these aims will require better-defined “transition pathways” capable of achieving transformational change in human systems, such as mobility, space and water heating, and industrial processes, Layzell says.

“By drawing on experience and expertise from across the country, we can get further, faster and help decision-makers successfully steer the country toward a low-carbon, resilient and prosperous future,” Kathy Bardswick, the CCIC’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

The CCIC, which will be at arm’s length from the government, was established following a competitive call for proposals led by Environment and Climate Change Canada. More than 60 experts from across Canada are either on the institute’s 11-member board, its expert panels (Adaptation, Mitigation, and Clean Growth) or its advisory council. The board is chaired by Peter Nicholson, founding president of the Council of Canadian Academies and former advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Layzell is also a founding research director at The Transition Accelerator, which brings together industry, governments and academe to define “credible and compelling” transition pathways capable of achieving the emissions reductions needed by a net-zero emissions Canada. “The work of the CCIC is potentially an excellent complement to The Transition Accelerator’s work,” Layzell says.


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