Climate change is often considered a problem too big to solve.
Dr. Lauchlan Fraser, TRU professor and former Canada Research Chair in Community and Ecosystem Ecology, is one of 60 researchers from universities across Canada enlisted for Sustainable Canada Dialogues (SCD), a group working to change that perception.
Last week SCD revealed its action plan for mitigating climate change in the report Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from Canadian Scholars. SCD chair Dr. Catherine Potvin released the report on Mar. 18 during the Americana conference in Montreal, in time to inform policy makers and federal election platforms.
Until now, said Fraser, the discussion around climate change and greenhouse gas reduction has been predominantly negative. Acting on Climate Change redefines the conversation, and outlines the achievable steps necessary for Canada to transition to a low carbon society.
“We want voices from across Canada to be heard when politicians are preparing their talking points. We need climate change to be part of that discussion,” said Fraser.
Some of those voices were captured during a visioning session held in Kamloops in spring 2014. The local session was one of the first to provide context for SCD’s report. More than a dozen local politicians, members of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, business people and students were in attendance.
The goal was to discover what people valued most when considering the larger picture of human-caused climate change.
“People want a healthy environment for their children and their grandchildren. They know it is important to have clean, safe drinking water and they want to continue to have access to natural spaces,” said Fraser.
Most importantly, he said, they needed positive solutions, which is what this report provides.
“In our country we’ve dropped the ball. We’ve been ignoring the fact that humans can cause climate change, and this report really brings this to the forefront and also brings solutions.”
Potvin, Canada Research Chair in Climate Change Mitigation and Tropical Forests at McGill University, and the UNESCO Chair for Dialogues on Sustainability, enlisted Fraser for the Dialogues while on campus a year ago.
Short-term policy orientations to trigger climate action include:
- Implementing either a national carbon tax or a national economy-wide cap and trade program
- Eliminating subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and fully integrating the oil and gas production sector in climate policies
- Integrating sustainability and climate change into landscape planning at the regional and city levels to ensure that, amongst other goals, new and maintenance infrastructure investments are consistent with the long-term goal of decarbonizing
“Because renewable energy resources are plentiful, we believe that Canada could reach 100% reliance on low carbon electricity by 2035. This makes it possible, in turn, to adopt a long-term target of at least 80% reduction in emissions by the middle of the century, consistent with Canada’s international climate mitigation responsibility.” — Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from Canadian Scholars
Dr. Lauchlan Fraser
Professor and former Canada Research Chair in Community and Ecosystem Ecology