Both in Canada and across the world, the ongoing climate crisis remains one of the most severe issues facing society. In everything from environmental regulations to economic policies, the decisions we make today will have a lasting impact on the climate of tomorrow.
But how can we determine which decisions will lead to the best outcomes, and how to address the complex climate-related challenges that lie ahead?
For dozens of academics and policy experts across Canada, the answer comes in the form of a new, multi-disciplinary national research body known as the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices. The institute was founded this January, with the goal of taking an integrated approach to the climate crisis and “help[ing] Canadian decision makers chart a course toward a clean, resilient, and prosperous future for all Canadians.”
Charting our course towards a climate-friendly future
One of the main goals of the institute is to bring together the expertise from a diverse range of knowledge-holders across the country, including economics, natural and social sciences, Indigenous knowledge, engineering, and more. Experts and leaders from these diverse groups will make up the members of three core panel groups of the institute, focused on Adaptation, Mitigation, and Clean Growth.
To coincide with their launch, the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices also recently released their initial report, titled Charting Our Course. The report synthesizes knowledge from each of the panel groups mentioned above to discuss how Canada’s policies can put our country on track to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. More broadly, the report also addresses the steps we need to take to make sure that Canadians thrive throughout the difficult climate-related changes that may lie ahead.
The report also lays out four main recommendations that the institute has for Canadian policy makers and governments, which involve:
- broadening Canada’s objectives for climate policy,
- embracing Canada’s role in global outcomes,
- expanding the scope, scale, and pace of Canada’s climate policies, and
- seeking out integrated solutions that have multiple benefits.
The report uses five case studies as a demonstration of how their goals and objectives can be achieved. For example, a case study focusing on preserving wetlands in Canada describes how wetlands can make communities more resilient to floods while also absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and providing clean water. Investing in wetlands will require input from many communities and a shift in mindset over how we address climate-related issues, but in many cases natural solutions like this are preferable to engineered options.
The members of the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices see their report as the starting point for a more in-depth, continued discussion that Canada needs to have surrounding climate change. Going forward, they will continue to seek out integrated solutions for the climate crisis while prioritizing the needs of Canadians.
“Climate change has handed us a problem of immense complexity and scale, and there are no easy fixes,” said Peter Nicholson, chair of the institute’s board.
“The choices governments across Canada make today […] will have long-lasting implications for Canada’s future prosperity, stability, and competitiveness. Making choices that are cost-effective, fair and position Canada to thrive in the future is an incredible challenge, as well as an opportunity.”