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Stimulating a Canadian narrative for climate

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This perspective documents current thinking around climate actions in Canada by synthesizing scholarly proposals made by Sustainable Canada Dialogues (SCD), an informal network of scholars from all 10 provinces, and by reviewing responses from civil society representatives to the scholars’ proposals. Motivated by Canada’s recent history of repeatedly missing its emissions reduction targets and failing to produce a coherent plan to address climate change, SCD mobilized more than 60 scholars to identify possible pathways towards a low-carbon economy and sustainable society and invited civil society to comment on the proposed solutions. This perspective illustrates a range of Canadian ideas coming from many sectors of society and a wealth of existing inspiring initiatives. Solutions discussed include climate change governance, low-carbon transition, energy production, and consumption. This process of knowledge synthesis/creation is novel and important because it provides a working model for making connections across academic fields as well as between academia and civil society. The process produces a holistic set of insights and recommendations for climate change actions and a unique model of engagement. The different voices reported here enrich the scope of possible solutions, showing that Canada is brimming with ideas, possibilities, and the will to act.
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Stimulating a Canadian narrative for
climate
Catherine Potvin
a
*, Divya Sharma
a
, Irena Creed
b
, Sally Aitken
c
, François Anctil
d
, Elena Bennett
e
,
Fikret Berkes
f
, Steven Bernstein
g
, Nathalie Bleau
h
, Alain Bourque
i
, Bryson Brown
j
, Sarah Burch
k
,
James Byrne
l
, Ashlee Cunsolo
m
, Ann Dale
n
, Deborah de Lange
o
, Bruno Dyck
p
, Martin Entz
q
,
José Etcheverry
r
, Rosine Faucher
s
, Adam Fenech
t
, Lauchlan Fraser
u
, Irene Henriques
v
,
Andreas Heyland
w
, Matthew Hoffmann
x
, George Hoberg
y
, Meg Holden
z
, Gordon Huang
aa
,
Aerin L. Jacob
ab
, Sebastien Jodoin
ac
, Alison Kemper
ad
, Marc Lucotte
ae
, Roxane Maranger
af
,
Liat Margolis
ag
, Ian Mauro
ah
, Jeffrey McDonnell
ai
, James Meadowcroft
aj
, Christian Messier
ak
,
Martin Mkandawire
al
, Catherine Morency
am
, Normand Mousseau
an
, Ken Oakes
ao
, Sarah Otto
ap
,
Pamela Palmater
aq
, Taysha Sharlene Palmer
ar
, Dominique Paquin
as
, Anthony Perl
at
, André Potvin
au
,
Howard Ramos
av
, Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne
aw
, Natalie Richards
a
, John Robinson
ax
, Stephen Sheppard
ay
,
Suzanne Simard
az
, Brent J. Sinclair
b
, Natalie Slawinski
ba
, Mark Stoddart
bb
, Marc-André Villard
bc
,
Claude Villeneuve
bd
, and Tarah Wright
be
a
Department of Biology, McGill University, 1205 Dr. Penfield, Montreal, QC H3A 1B1, Canada;
b
Department of Biology, Western University, Biological and Geological Sciences 2078, 1151 Richmond
Street, London, ON N6A 5B7, Canada;
c
Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Forest
Sciences Centre 3041, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada;
d
Département de génie civil
et de génie des eaux, Université Laval, Pavillon Adrien-Pouliot 1065, avenue de la Médecine, Quebec City,
QC G1V 0A6, Canada;
e
Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Macdonald-Stewart
Building, 21111 Lakeshore Road, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, QC H9X 3V9, Canada;
f
Natural
Resource Institute, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, Canada;
g
Department of Political
Science, University of Toronto, DV 3274, 3359 Mississauga Road, Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6, Canada;
h
Built Environment Program, Ouranos Consortium on Regional Climatology and Adaptation to Climate
Change, Montreal, 550 Sherbrooke West, West Tower, 19th Floor, Montreal, QC H3A 1B9, Canada;
i
Impacts and Adaptation Program, Ouranos, 550 Sherbrooke West, West Tower, 19th Floor, Montreal,
QC H3A 1B9, Canada;
j
Department of Philosophy, University of Lethbridge, B864 (University Hall),
4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, AB T1K 3M4, Canada;
k
Department of Geography and Environmental
Management, University of Waterloo, Room EV1-103, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1,
Canada;
l
Department of Geography, University of Lethbridge, 401 University Drive, Lethbridge,
AB T1K 3M4, Canada;
m
Labrador Institute of Memorial University, Room 110, College of the North
Atlantic Building, P.O. Box 490, Station B, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL A0P 1E0, Canada;
n
School of
Environment and Sustainability, Royal Roads University, 2005 Sooke Road, Victoria, BC V9B 5Y2,
Canada;
o
Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto,
ON M5B 2K3, Canada;
p
Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba, 658 Drake Centre,
181 Freedman Crescent, Winnipeg, MB R3T 5V4, Canada;
q
Department of Plant Science, University of
Manitoba, 222 Agriculture Building, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, Canada;
r
Faculty of Environmental Studies,
York University, 349 York Lanes, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada;
s
Faculty of Law,
McGill University, Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 Peel Street, Montreal, QC H3A 1W9, Canada;
t
Climate
Laboratory, University of Prince Edward Island, McDougall Hall, 320, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3,
Canada;
u
Faculty of Science, Thompson Rivers University, 900 McGill Road, Kamloops, BC V2C 0C8,
Canada;
v
Schulich School of Business, York University, Room N205D, 111 Ian Macdonald Boulevard,
Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada;
w
Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, SSC 1468,
Summerlee Science Complex, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada;
x
Department of Political Science,
University of Toronto, Sid Smith 3110, Toronto, ON M5S 3G3, Canada;
y
Faculty of Forestry, University of
British Columbia, Forest Sciences Centre 2045, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada;
z
Department of Urban Studies and Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University, 2nd Floor,
515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3, Canada;
aa
Institute for Energy, Environment and
Sustainable Communities, University of Regina, Regina, SK S4S 0A2, Canada;
ab
School of Environmental
OPEN ACCESS
Citation: Potvin C, Sharma D, Creed I,
Aitken S, Anctil F, Bennett E, Berkes F,
Bernstein S, Bleau N, Bourque A, Brown B,
Burch S, Byrne J, Cunsolo A, Dale A,
de Lange D, Dyck B, Entz M, Etcheverry J,
Faucher R, Fenech A, Fraser L, Henriques I,
Heyland A, Hoffmann M, Hoberg G,
Holden M, Huang G, Jacob AL, Jodoin S,
Kemper A, Lucotte M, Maranger R,
Margolis L, Mauro I, McDonnell J,
Meadowcroft J, Messier C, Mkandawire M,
Morency C, Mousseau N, Oakes K, Otto S,
Palmater P, Palmer TS, Paquin D, Perl A,
Potvin A, Ramos H, Raudsepp-Hearne C,
Richards N, Robinson J, Sheppard S,
Simard S, Sinclair BJ, Slawinski N, Stoddart M,
Villard M-A, Villeneuve C, and Wright T.
2017. Stimulating a Canadian narrative for
climate. FACETS 2: 131149. doi:10.1139/
facets-2016-0029
Editor: C. Scott Findlay
Received: June 17, 2016
Accepted: November 6, 2016
Published: February 14, 2017
Copyright: © 2017 Potvin et al. This work is
licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY
4.0), which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original author(s) and
source are credited.
Published by: Canadian Science Publishing
PERSPECTIVE
FACETS | 2017 | 2: 131149 | DOI: 10.1139/facets-2016-0029 131
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Studies, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 1700 STN CSC, Victoria, BC V8W 2Y2, Canada;
ac
Faculty of Law,
McGill University, New Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 Peel Street, Room 617, Montreal, QC H3A 1W9,
Canada;
ad
Faculty of Entrepreneurship, Ryerson University, TRS2-121, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto,
ON M5B 2K3, Canada;
ae
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Université du Québec à
Montréal, PK-7440, 201 avenue du Président-Kennedy, Montreal, QC H2X 3Y7, Canada;
af
Department of
Biological Sciences, Université de Montréal, Pavillon Marie-Victorin, Ext. F234-6, 90 avenue Vincent-
dIndy, Montreal, QC H2V 2S9, Canada;
ag
John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design,
University of Toronto, 230 College Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1R2, Canada;
ah
Department of Geography,
University of Winnipeg, 5L33, 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3B 2E9, Canada;
ai
School of
Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan, Kirk Hall 117 Science Place, Saskatoon,
SK S7N 5C8, Canada;
aj
School of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University, 5139 River
Building, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada;
ak
Department of Biological Sciences,
Université de Québec en Outaouais, 283 Boul Alexandre-Taché, Gatineau, QC J8X 3X7, Canada;
al
Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment, Cape Breton University, CS201,
1250 Grand Lake Road, Sydney, NS B1P 6L2, Canada;
am
Department of Civil, Geological and Mining
Engineering, Polytechnique Montréal, B-324.3, 2900, boul. Édouard-Montpetit, 2500, chemin de
Polytechnique, Montreal, QC H3T 1J4, Canada;
an
Départment de Physique, Université de Montréal,
Pavillon Roger-Gaudry, Bur. A436, 2900, boul. Édouard-Montpetit, Montreal, QC H3T 1J4, Canada;
ao
Department of Biology, Cape Breton University, Suite CS207, P.O. Box 5300, 1250 Grand Lake Road,
Sydney, NS B1P 6L2, Canada;
ap
Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, 6270 University
Boulevard, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada;
aq
Department of Politics and Public Administration,
Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street JOR700, Toronto, ON M5B 2K3, Canada;
ar
Environmental
Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University, 1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way, St. Catharines, ON L2S 3A1,
Canada;
as
Climate Simulation and Analysis, Ouranos Consortium on Regional Climatology and
Adaptation to Climate Change, Montreal, 550 Sherbrooke West, West Tower, 19th Floor, Montreal,
QC H3A 1B9, Canada;
at
Department of Political Science, Simon Fraser University, HC 2124, 8888
University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada;
au
École darchitecture, Université Laval, Édifice du
Vieux-Séminaire-de-Québec, 1 côte de la Fabrique, Quebec City, QC G1R 3V6, Canada;
av
Department of
Sociology and Social Anthropology, Dalhousie University, Room 1117, McCain Building, 6135 University
Avenue, P.O. Box 15000, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada;
aw
Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science, McGill
University, Stewart Biology Building Office W6/19, 1205 Dr. Penfield Avenue, Montreal, QC H3A 1B1,
Canada;
ax
Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto,
ON M5S 3K7, Canada;
ay
Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP), Faculty of Forestry,
University of British Columbia, Forest Sciences Centre 3601, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4,
Canada;
az
Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Forest Sciences Centre 3601, 2424 Main
Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada;
ba
Faculty of Business Administration, Memorial University,
BN-3025, St. Johns, NL A1B 3X5, Canada;
bb
Department of Sociology, Memorial University, A-4070,
230 Elizabeth Avenue, St. Johns, NL A1C 5S7, Canada;
bc
Décanat de la recherche, Université du Québec à
Rimouski, C.P. 3300, Succursale A, Rimouski, QC G5L 3A1, Canada;
bd
Department of Fundamental
Sciences, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, 555, boulevard de lUniversité, Chicoutimi, QC G7H 2B1,
Canada;
be
Faculty of Science, Dalhousie University, Rm. 821, Life Sciences Centre, 1355 Oxford Street,
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada
*catherine.potvin@mcgill.ca
Abstract
This perspective documents current thinking around climate actions in Canada by synthesizing
scholarly proposals made by Sustainable Canada Dialogues (SCD), an informal network of scholars
from all 10 provinces, and by reviewing responses from civil society representatives to the scholars
proposals. Motivated by Canadas recent history of repeatedly missing its emissions reduction targets
and failing to produce a coherent plan to address climate change, SCD mobilized more than
60 scholars to identify possible pathways towards a low-carbon economy and sustainable society
Potvin et al.
FACETS | 2017 | 2: 131149 | DOI: 10.1139/facets-2016-0029 132
facetsjournal.com
and invited civil society to comment on the proposed solutions. This perspective illustrates a range of
Canadian ideas coming from many sectors of society and a wealth of existing inspiring initiatives.
Solutions discussed include climate change governance, low-carbon transition, energy production,
and consumption. This process of knowledge synthesis/creation is novel and important because it
provides a working model for making connections across academic fields as well as between academia
and civil society. The process produces a holistic set of insights and recommendations for climate
change actions and a unique model of engagement. The different voices reported here enrich the scope
of possible solutions, showing that Canada is brimming with ideas, possibilities, and the will to act.
Key words: climate change, governance, low-carbon transition, energy production, energy
consumption
Stimulating a Canadian narrative for climate action
Past climate change discourses have been characterized either as alarmist (emphasizing the devas-
tation to come), dismissive (rejecting the alarmist discourse), or based on small actions (every small
step counts) (Ereaut and Segnit 2006). None of these have led to worldwide climate action at the scale
or pace necessary to prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change (New et al. 2011). Several
authors have therefore argued for a new climate change narrative that fosters accelerated action
(Moser and Dilling 2007;Risbey 2008).
For Canada, the 2015 October federal election and the December United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change COP21 meetings offered key opportunities to shift climate discourse.
Motivated by Canadas recent history of repeatedly missing its emissions reduction targets and failing
to produce a comprehensive climate action plan, Sustainable Canada Dialogues (SCD)
(http://sustainablecanadadialogues.ca/en/scd) mobilized more than 60 scholars from all provinces in
20142015 to reach a consensus on possible pathways towards a low-carbon economy and sustainable
society. This effort resulted in a position paper, Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from Canadian
Scholars, proposing 10 policy orientations that could be implemented now to begin the transition to
low-carbon development pathways (Potvin et al. 2015). Bushell et al. (2015) proposed that new
climate narratives must be constructed as an iterative process that fully engages relevant stakeholders.
The SCD scholars (hereafter scholars), therefore, broadly invited representatives from diverse civil
society perspectives to respond to these proposals. Twenty-eight contributions were received, some
invited, and others offered, from an Indigenous institution, non-governmental organizations,
businesses, labour groups, and private citizens (Fig. 1). These were compiled in Acting on Climate
Change: Extending the Dialogue Among Canadians(Sharma and Potvin 2015).
This perspective synthesizes scholarspolicy orientations and reviews input from the civil society
dialogues, documenting the breadth of current thinking around climate actions in Canada. This
process of knowledge synthesis/creation is novel and important because it provides a working model
for making connections across academic fields as well as between academia and civil society. The
process produces a holistic set of insights and recommendations for climate change actions and a
unique model of engagement.
Reaching a scholarly consensus
To reach a consensus on desirable climate actions, scholars used a Delphi survey (see Methods in
Supplementary Material)toanswerthequestionBearing in mind the upcoming federal elections
and the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Paris 2015, what key recommendations or
solutions do you think Sustainable Canada Dialogues could propose to Canadian policymakers to
Potvin et al.
FACETS | 2017 | 2: 131149 | DOI: 10.1139/facets-2016-0029 133
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foster sustainable development in Canada?. The first survey round resulted in 299 statements, many
of which were operational solutionssuch as Compel manufacturers to include their vehicles green-
house gas emissions in advertisements;Each new urban development project should contribute
towards the creation of walkable pedestrian-oriented communities;Build an electric train in the
Quebec-Windsor corridor;andAll government purchases should be smart and fair trade.
Together, these initial statements represent a wealth of ideas that could serve to stimulate actions
(Table S1).
The Delphi survey continued for two additional rounds. In round 2, scholars were asked to rate the
initial 299 statements according to their perceived importance. The 51 statements receiving a high
median score and low interquartile range in round 2 served as input for round 3 in which actions were
ranked for achievability and potential impact. The most highly ranked statements focused principally
SOCIAL JUSTICE
NGO
BUSINESS ENVIRONMENTAL
NGO
LABOUR
UNION
ACADEMIC(S) ENERGY FIRM/
CONSULTANT
SCIENCE ADVOCACY
NGO
EXTENDING THE DIALOGUE
AMONG CANADIANS
RESEARCH
GROUP
SUSTAINABLE
DEVELOPMENT
NGO
YOUTH
ORGANIZATION
1. Ber thélemy
2. Canton &
Lucotte
3. ERSC
4. SCD
5. Meloche
6. UN GCN
7. DSF
8. RC
9. RE
10. RNCREQ
11. WWF-CA 12. SGS
13. Torrie
14. HC
15. CSQ
16. Unifor
17. Be nhaddadi et
al.
18. TEFP
20. CoC
21. Lee
25. GS
26. Suleman
27. SOI
19. E4D
22. de Graaf
23. FN QLSDI
24. IISD
Fig. 1. Contributors to Acting on Climate Change: Extending the Dialogue Among Canadians, arranged according to sector of society. 1. Nathalie Berthélemy,
2. Mathieu Canton and Marc Lucotte, Université du Québec à Montréal, 3. Liette Vasseur and Gary Pickering, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre,
Brock University, 4. Natalie Richards, Mark Stoddart, Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, Catherine Potvin and the Sustainable Canada DialoguesVisioning Team,
5. François Meloche, Bâtirente, 6. United Nations Global Compact Network Environment Committee, 7. Ian Bruce and Ryan Kadowaki, David Suzuki
Foundation,8.MichaelSmallandClaireHavens,RenewableCities,9.Caroline Sanchez Valero, Réseau Environnement, 10. Philippe Bourke and Cédric
Chaperon, Regroupement national des conseils régionaux de lenvironnement du Québec, 11. David Miller, Susan Evans and Farid Sharifi, WWF-Canada,
12. Adam Day and Sean Fleming, Solar Global Solutions, 13. Ralph Torrie, Torrie Smith Associates, 14. Philip Raphals and Rick Hendriks, Helios Centre,
15. Erik Bouchard-Boulianne and Jean Robitaille, la Centrale des syndicats du Québec, 16. Lana Payne and Jim Stanford, Unifor, 17. Mohammed Benhaddadi,
Pierre Blanchet, Jean-François Boucher, Jean-François Desgroseilliers, Érick Lachapelle, Isabelle Lessard, Annie Levasseur, Paul Lewis, Valérie Patreau, André
Potvin, Johanne Saint-Charles, Juan Torres and Cathy Vaillancourt, Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en opérationnalisation du développement durable,
18. Alex Boston, Trottier Energy Futures Project, 19. W.R. Peltier, John Stone, Tim Takaro and Alana Westwood, Evidence for Democracy, 20. Andrea
Donahue-Harden, Council of Canadians, 21. Marc Lee, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 22. Megan de Graaf, Fundy Biosphere Reserve, 23. Catherine
Béland and Michael Ross, First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Sustainable Development Institute, 24. Scott Vaughan, International Institute for Sustainable
Development, 25. Paul Kershaw, Generation Squeeze, 26. Shazeen Suleman, Canadian Commission for UNESCO Youth Advisory Group, and 27. Corinne
Cadoret and Noah Picard-Simon, NordMABs Students On Ice. See http://sustainablecanadadialogues.ca/en/scd/extendingthedialogue.
Potvin et al.
FACETS | 2017 | 2: 131149 | DOI: 10.1139/facets-2016-0029 134
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on energy (seven statements), urban design, and transportation (six statements) (Table S1). It is
noteworthy that five of the seven statements pertaining to energy addressed fossil fuel production;
for example, Federal and provincial governments should avoid costly and irrevocable investments
in obsolete energy sources (e.g., fossil fuel-based) and technologies in the short term.
Transportation was similarly dominant in the selected statements, being the focus of five out of six,
including Integrate sustainable developmentandclimatechangeintothe heart of territorial and
urban planning (laws, orientation, etc.), including incentives to reduce reliance on cars, supporting
greater expansion of public transportation, tolls in areas with heavier traffic, improving current road
infrastructure without creating new roads, etc.(Table 1).
Climate change governance
Scholarsproposal
Canadas failure to meet its emissions reduction targets has been attributed in part to the absence of
a cohesive vision across governmental levels (Jones 2014), highlighting again the importance of
governance. Long-term low-carbon transition entails application of policies that are most appropri-
ate according to their place and the current state of regional knowledge, then systematically
monitoring progress and adjusting efforts over time based on lessons learned (Meadowcroft
2011). Scholars therefore envisioned climate governance as a multi-level process of cooperation
and collaboration between citizens and different government levels: municipal, territorial, provin-
cial, federal, and Indigenous.
Many different routes and pathways can be consistent with a low-carbon future in Canada.
Decarbonisation priorities in Quebec (with its hydro-based electricity system) will be different from
those in Alberta (which relies extensively on coal for electricity and whose hydrocarbon extraction
sector constitutes a large component of the provincial economy). Different regions will therefore
opt for distinct combinations of these and other technologies depending on their visions, energy
portfolio (CESAR 2016), and emissions sectors (Layzell 2014).
Civil society responses
Calls for novel multi-level climate governance were at the heart of 18 out of 28 contributions received.
Civil society responses emphasized the need for clear federal leadership (Bruce and Kadowaki 2015;
Peltier et al. 2015;Sanchez Valero 2015;GCNCEC 2015). Vaughan (2015) proposed a clear and
predictable federal regulatory framework would create opportunities for transition which, according
to Canadas Global Compact environment committee (GCNCEC 2015), could stimulate businesses
to integrate climate change considerations into their strategies. According to Bruce and Kadowaki
(2015), Canada would be on course to meet its emissions reduction target of 17% by 2020 had it
adopted, in 2008, the best existing provincial emissions reduction policies in a national framework.
Several civil society responses emphasized the crucial role of cities and local government leadership
in transitioning to low-carbon (Boston 2015;Bourke and Chaperon 2015;Sanchez Valero 2015;
Small and Havens 2015) because they concentrate wealth, innovation, education, consumption, and
emissions, as well as poverty and vulnerability.
Civil society contributors also felt climate change governance should be participatory (Benhaddadi et al.
2015;Richards et al. 2015) and evidence-based (Kershaw 2015;Peltier et al. 2015), allowing all
Canadians to act on the future at hand by engaging in a transition (de Graaf 2015;Robitaille 2015;
Vasseur and Pickering 2015). Some contributors called for inclusion of youth (Cadoret and Picard-
Simon 2015;Kershaw 2015;Robitaille 2015;Suleman 2015) and local knowledge (Benhaddadi et al.
2015;de Graaf 2015;Richards et al. 2015;Robitaille 2015;Vasseur and Pickering 2015) in the climate
narrative, while acknowledging the jurisdictional status of Indigenous peoples (Béland and Ross 2015).
Potvin et al.
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Table 1. Statements retained in round 3 of the Delphi survey that asked SCD scholars Bearing in mind the upcoming federal elections and the United
Nations Climate Change Conference, Paris 2015, what key recommendations or solutions do you think Sustainable Canada Dialogues could propose to
Canadian policymakers to foster sustainable development in Canada?.
Topic Statement
Energy
1. Federal and provincial governments should develop a national energy policy and long-term plans, respectively, for transitioning
to a mainly renewable energy economy.
Note: One scholar stresses that this statement needs to be fine-tuned. Renewable energy is not the answer to everything and not all
renewable energy is sustainable.
2. Terminate direct and indirect domestic subsidization of the petroleum industry. Redirect these funds to initiatives aiming to
reduce GHG emissions.
3. Support international efforts to end fossil fuel subsidies globally.
4. Implement a moratorium on further development of the oil sands.
5. Immediately embark on a trajectory of ending oil sand extraction in Alberta within 10 years:
i. Continuing to do so will put the world on the most aggressive CO
2
growth curve, spelling disaster;
ii. Continuing to do so endangers downstream ecosystems in Alberta.
6. Federal and provincial governments should avoid costly and irrevocable investments in obsolete energy sources, e.g., fossil
fuel-based technologies, in the short term.
7. Novel energy policies should promote renewable energy, low energy consumption, residential insulation, and the use of
environmentally sound designs. Environmental performance considerations should be integrated into federal decision-making
processes. Aggressive policies need not be expensive (e.g., adding solar hot water to every new house would be 1% of the
houses value.
Low-carbon policy
1. Develop a national climate change policy.
2. Put a price on carbon either by joining the international carbon market or through a carbon tax for all enterprises operating in
Canada.
Cities/transportation
1. Set national automobile emission standards that match regions with best practices(i.e., California within North America).
2. Introduce more rapid transit within cities. Rapid transit need not be expensive (e.g., no need for subways), but can be facilitated
by clever use of buses (see example of Jaime Lerner in Curitiba, Brazil (Adler 2016)).
3. Support sustainable transportation initiatives at the municipal level, including through federal infrastructure money.
4. Integrate sustainable development and climate change into the heart of territorial and urban planning (laws, orientation, etc.),
including incentives to move away from reliance on cars, support for greater expansion of public transportation, tolls in areas
with heavier traffic, improvements to current road infrastructure without creating new roads, etc.
5. Create smart cities, which means that all of the systems (water, waste, energy, transportation, buildings, etc.) are made
sustainable, clean, accessible, and integrated and connected using clean advanced technologies. In doing so, enforce sustainable
sourcing for new building and retrofits.
6. Develop new building codes that improve housing sector energy efficiency. (Homeowners often weigh the upfront price of a
house more heavily than operating costs; this makes it important to use the building code rather than rely on builders and
homebuyers to make the best decision independently.)
Land use
1. Decrease deforestation practices and increase protection of forestsnatural carbon sinks.
(continued )
Potvin et al.
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Furthermore, Vasseur and Pickering (2015) proposed a shift in decision-making and mindset to embrace
both adaptive and anticipatory governance as a stepping stone to a more resilient country in the face of
climate change, because benefits for public health (Peltier et al. 2015;Suleman 2015), biodiversity
(Boston 2015;Miller et al. 2015;GCNCEC 2015), water (de Graaf 2015;Donahue-Harden 2015;
GCNCEC 2015), and social equity (Béland and Ross 2015;Donahue-Harden 2015) could emerge from
a well-designed low-carbon transition.
Implementation
Scholars indicated that effective climatechangegovernanceshould(i)favourpolicycoherenceand
alignment within governments; (ii) support policy congruence between levels of government; and
(iii) enhance participatory policy development to close implementation gaps. Canada has past expe-
rience in governance innovations that can be drawn upon to facilitate climate governance.
Examples include the Canadian Council of Environment Ministers and the national, provincial,
and municipal round tables on environment and economy, and their structural arrangements
(Dale 2005).
According to Bourke and Chaperon (2015), fully engaging with municipalities would enable
identification of locally appropriate promising climate actions. Sanchez Valero (2015) proposed
as initial steps that every municipality have a greenhouse gas inventory and an action plan to
reduce emissions and support increased public awareness, as illustrated by the Federation of
Canadian Municipalities in Partners for Climate Protection (Table 2), a guide for municipalities
towards climate action. Indeed, creation of such municipal inventories in British Columbia trig-
gered by the 2008 Climate Action Plan (Province of British Columbia 2008)waspartofamuch
widersuiteofclimatechangeactionsthatfollowed(Burch et al. 2014). In Quebec, the initiative
Par notre propre énergie provided a platform to showcase innovative projects that reduce fossil
fuel consumption, thus favouring knowledge sharing and stimulating the low-carbon transition
(Table 2).
Climate change awareness will play a key role in implementing efficient climate change governance
(Bourke and Chaperon 2015;Sanchez Valero 2015;GCNCEC 2015). Experiences of the Fundy
Biosphere Reserve (de Graaf 2015), Brundtland schools (Robitaille 2015), Youth Advisory Group
for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (Suleman 2015), and Students On Ice (Cadoret and
Picard-Simon 2015) are examples of tangible initiatives that raise awareness and engage youth in
the pursuit of a sustainable society (Table 2).
Table 1. (concluded )
Topic Statement
Information, education,
and research
1. Inform society on climate change mitigation and adaptation so that everyone can understand the key issues and act on them.
Inform the necessary stakeholders and decision makers of the risks and available options linked to climate change and promote
dialogue regarding possible measures of mitigation and adaptation.
2. Promote applied research in the domain of sustainable cities, taking into account mitigation of and adaptation to climate
change impacts.
Note: Statements with high feasibility and potential impact (i.e., with median score of 3 and a low dispersion (interquartile range of 0 (N=2)
or 1 (N=16)) were retained. A total of 43 scholars answered at least one of the three rounds. For further details, see Supplementary Methods.
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Table 2. Existing Canadian initiatives cited in both Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from Scholars and Extending the Dialogue Among Canadians reports
that reflect proposals of SCD and civil society and provide guidance on how the low-carbon transition can be operationalized.
Contribution Name of initiative Description Link
Energy
production
Montreal Carbon Pledge Measures carbon footprint of investment
portfolios
http://montrealpledge.org
Suncor Invests in technology to reduce
environmental impact
http://www.suncor.com/default.aspx
Par notre propre énergie Creates conditions to reduce oil
dependence in Quebec
http://www.par-notre-propre-energie.com
High Conservation Value
framework of Forest
Stewardship Council
Identifies places of high ecological value
to avoid in renewable projects
https://ic.fsc.org/en/smallholders/support/technical-
materials/high-conservation-values-and-biodiversity
Investment in wind energy in
Paintearth County and
Pincher Creek, Alberta
Establishment of wind farms in districts
of Alberta
http://canwea.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/
canwea-AB-brochure-e-web-v1.pdf
Ontario feed-in tariff program Payments for renewable energy use to
encourage investment
http://fit.powerauthority.on.ca
Divest McGill Campaigns for McGill University to
divest its endowment from the fossil
fuel industry
http://divestmcgill.com
Columbia Hydro Constructors Implemented employment equity
programs in the late 1990s that
provided training and opportunities
for marginalized groups in the province
http://columbiapower.org/about/
Sustainable Development
Technology Canada
Provides venture capital to support
precommercialization development
of clean technology options
https://www.sdtc.ca/en
Climate Change and Emissions
Management initiative
Provides start-up capital to promising
clean technologies
http://ccemc.ca/about/
Flow-through shares for clean
energy modeled after mining
industry
http://miningtaxcanada.com/flow-through-shares/
Energy
consumption
Neighbourhood Energy Utility,
Vancouver
Recapture of waste water to improve
building energy efficiency
http://vancouver.ca/docs/planning/renewable-energy-
neighbourhood-utility-factsheet.pdf
Montreal Transit Commitment to 100% electrified transit http://www.stm.info/en/about/major_projects/
electrification-surface-system
ecoENERGY and ENERGY
STAR
Programs that improve consumer
product efficiency, taking pressure off
the grid and helping reduce utility
peak energy requirements
http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/funding/current-funding-
programs/eii/4985 and http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/
products/energystar/12519
Pay-as-you-save, Manitoba Manitoba Hydro pays upfront energy
upgrade costs and households pay
from savings in utility bills
https://www.hydro.mb.ca/NewsReleases/GetDetail?
hdnAct=E&hdnTXT=PAYS%20Financing%
20Program%20makes%20energy%20efficiency%
20more%20accessible
(continued )
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Pricing carbon to begin the transition
Scholarsproposal
Transitioning to a low-carbon economy can be facilitated by climate policies that are (i) environ-
mentally effective, (ii) cost-effective, (iii) administratively feasible, (iv) politically feasible, and
(v) equitable. Climate policy analysts widely agree that carbon pricing should be a key component
of any comprehensive climate change policy, whether as a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system
(Gupta et al. 2014). Carbon pricing is therefore the key enabling policy orientation.
Civil society responses
Several contributors contended the allocated value per tonne of carbon will determine the effect of a
carbon price. A low price would have little impact on emissions reduction (Benhaddadi et al. 2015;
Torrie 2015;Vaughan 2015), whereas a sufficiently high price could encourage fossil fuel/energy
companies to internalize environmental production costs when determining future project viability
(Meloche 2015). Vaughan (2015), however, recalled the importance of emissions reductions gained
by measures such as efficiency standards, arguing that carbon pricing cannot replace all climate
policies, but rather should be one instrument in a climate action toolbox. For GCNCEC (2015),the
creation of a more predictable economic or regulatory environment is an advantage of carbon pricing.
It envisions that governmental and business sectors working jointly to facilitate the implementation of
a carbon pricing strategy could stem from a carbon market working hand-in-hand with renewable
energy subsidies and removal of regulatory barriers.
Implementation
Scholars and civil society contributors both recognized that provinces have already invested in
different mechanisms to price carbon, and that it will be crucial to coordinate actions among prov-
inces (Benhaddadi et al. 2015;Bruce and Kadowaki 2015). Scholars proposed that any national system
would require adaptation by provinces with different existing policy instruments. For example, if a
national carbon tax was adopted and Quebec retained its cap-and-trade system, it could either
Table 2. (concluded )
Contribution Name of initiative Description Link
Adaptive
governance
Établissement vert Brundtland
(EVB-CSQ)
Network of institutions to educate public
and youth for sustainable development
http://evb.lacsq.org
Fundy Biosphere Reserve Enhances communitiesand students
climate change adaptation capacity
and awareness
http://www.fundy-biosphere.ca/en/
Canadian Commission for
UNESCO Youth Advisory
Group
Network of youth to identify youths
concerns, recommendations, and
coordinate projects
http://unesco.ca/home-accueil/youth-jeunesse%20new
NordMABs Students On Ice Educational youth expeditions to polar
regions
http://studentsonice.com
Climat municipalités, Quebec Helps municipalities contribute to
climate change mitigation
http://www.mddelcc.gouv.qc.ca/programmes/
climat-municipalites/
Partners for Climate Protection Promotes GHG reduction initiatives in
municipalities
http://www.fcm.ca/home/programs/
partners-for-climate-protection.htm
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negotiate an equivalency agreement that ensures its carbon price levels are similar to the rest of
Canada or comply with a province-specific emission cap.
Concerns
Pricing carbon raises equity concerns (Benhaddadi et al. 2015;Bouchard-Boulianne 2015;Kershaw
2015;Lee 2015). Because implementation would inevitablyraisegasolineandheatingoilprices,
poor and marginalized households would require support to ensure they do not bear a dispropor-
tionate cost of the low-carbon transition (Bouchard-Boulianne 2015). Many Indigenous peoples,
forexample,liveinsmall,remote,andisolatedcommunities that are off-grid and lack access to
public transportation, increasing the proportion of vulnerable households (Béland and Ross
2015). Equity measures associated with carbon pricingsuchastaxcreditsorotherformsoffinancial
support to lower-income families could increase social acceptability (Benhaddadi et al. 2015;
Kershaw 2015), allowing for a higher carbon price that enhances environmental effectiveness while
assisting lower-income groups during the transition (Bouchard-Boulianne 2015). Although British
Columbias revenue-neutral carbon tax is often proposed as a model, Lee (2015) suggested using
revenue from a carbon tax or market to support climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives that
also address social equity.
Energy production
Scholarsproposal
Several policy proposals were geared towards energy production and included favouring low-carbon
electricity production, fully integrating the oil and gas sectors in climate policies, and developing a
national energy strategy that considers the need for energy efficiency. Wind energy alone could
provide several times the existing fossil fuel and nuclear electricity at a competitive cost (Harvey
2013). It could be supplemented by solar photovoltaic, geothermal, ground-based heat recovery,
biomass, and biogas to supply a considerable portion of Canadasenergyneeds(Barrington-Leigh
and Ouliaris 2014). Furthermore, diversifying Canadas energy portfolio could improve both energy
and economic security (Bridge and Le Billon 2013).
Civil society responses
Many contributions stressed the benefits of clean energy for the Canadian economy and for employ-
ment (Bouchard-Boulianne 2015;Bruce and Kadowaki 2015;Day and Fleming 2015;Lee 2015;Miller
et al. 2015;Payne and Stanford 2015;Small and Havens 2015;GCNCEC 2015). Small and Havens
(2015), however, emphasized the importance of energy efficiency, noting that in North America up
to 40% improvement in energy efficiency will be necessary to complete the low-carbon transition they
envision. Torrie (2015) observed that all published low-carbon future scenarios require much greater
efficiency in electricity and fuel.
Payne and Stanford (2015, p. 71) noted that Canadas traditional reliance on natural resource indus-
tries ::: complicate[s] the politics and the economicsof low-carbon transitions. Raphals and
Hendriks (2015) suggested that natural gas could be used sensibly during the transition. In contrast,
Lee (2015) argued that retaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground is necessary to reduce emissions
by 80% by 2050. Some expressed unease because expanding oil sands extraction could increase
Canadas emissions by an approximated 100 Mt per year, preventing the country from meeting even
a low-ambition emissions reduction target (Berthélemy 2015;Donahue-Harden 2015). Because oil
extraction and export are interconnected, Donahue-Harden (2015) demands that pipeline expansion
be stopped. GCNCEC (2015), however, points to emerging best practices in the Canadian oil industry:
for example, Suncor manages risk and takes advantage of opportunity through technological innova-
tions such as reducing tailings, which are byproducts of the bitumen extraction process.
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Implementation
Scholars proposed capitalizing on current hydroelectric production and plentiful untapped renewable
energy resources by creating eastwest intelligent grid connections between provinces. Torrie (2015,
p. 61) emphasized the need to consider how the new electric gridcould accelerate renewable energy
deployment by including an array of information technologies, energy storage techniques, responsive
demand technologies, and a transmission and distribution infrastructure. Because a new electrical
grid would modulate the shift to renewable energy, Vaughan (2015, p. 38) called for links between
structurally rigid and capital-intensive systems (such as hydro) and more networked and modular
energy innovations such as electric vehicles and wind,whereasDay and Fleming (2015) raised the
potential for microgrid technologies to take full advantage of solar photovoltaics.
Civil society contributions cited a number of existing renewable energy programs and initiatives such
as investment in wind energy in Paintearth County and Pincher Creek, Alberta (Table 2).
In an energy-constrained world, regulatory frameworks must stimulate effective energy management
(GCNCEC 2015). Potential gains in emissions reduction and fossil fuel displacement could be
achieved with efficiency standards and a national energy policy (Benhaddadi et al. 2015;Boston 2015;
Bruce and Kadowaki 2015;Donahue-Harden 2015;Torrie 2015). Recognizing that energy decision-
making is currently fragmented (with production, transport, consumption, and relevant jurisdictions
largely considered in isolation), the adoption of a life-cycle approach to energy and development proj-
ects would enable accounting for both upstream and downstream impacts (Benhaddadi et al. 2015;
Donahue-Harden 2015).
Finally, several contributions indicated that ceasing fossil fuel subsidies and divesting from high-
carbon industries would be vital for stimulating the low-carbon transition (Donahue-Harden 2015;
Kershaw 2015;Lee 2015;Meloche 2015;Richards et al. 2015;Small and Havens 2015;Vaughan
2015). Meloche (2015) described fossil fuels as risky investments for two reasons: (i) it is predicted
that fuel demand will decrease with expanding electric car markets and (ii) investors will have to deal
with future environmental disruption stemming from their own investments. He proposed the
Montreal Carbon Pledge (Table 2), an international commitment to measure the carbon footprints
of investment portfolios, as a possible first step.
Concerns
Civil society contributors suggested specific policy modifications. For example, removal of barriers to
connecting renewable energy to grids (Donahue-Harden 2015)andOntarios feed-in tariffs as a
model (Day and Fleming 2015;Small and Havens 2015)(Table 2). Others contended new low-carbon
electricity utilities should be either publicly- or community-owned, so as not to disenfranchise the
least well off (Donahue-Harden 2015;Lee 2015).
Contributions from civil society revealed broad social justice concerns. Several contributors empha-
sized that energy efficiency programs should ensure social and economic benefits in meeting energy
needssuchascreatingjobsandreducingsocialinequity(Donahue-Harden 2015;Kershaw 2015;
Payne and Stanford 2015) to ensure that poor households and marginalized communities have access
to energy-efficient appliances and heating/cooling systems (Donahue-Harden 2015). Columbia
Hydro Construction, which implemented employment equity programs in the late 1990s and
provided training and opportunities for marginalized groups, is an example that could be emulated
(Table 2).
Recognizing that natural resource extraction and transportation, including renewable energy projects,
often take place on Indigenous territories, deployment of the new gridmust acknowledge First
Nations, Inuit, and Métis as full partners (Béland and Ross 2015;Donahue-Harden 2015). This would
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entail not only culturally relevant consultationsandfree,prior,andinformedconsent(Donahue-
Harden 2015), but also renewable energy project ownership, full partnership or leadership, and fair
sharing of benefits derived from electric network restructuration including access to low-carbon
electricity (Béland and Ross 2015).
Contributors also expressed concern over potential adverse effects of hydropower expansion (Bourke
and Chaperon 2015;Raphals and Hendriks 2015). Hydroelectric dams impact ecosystems and affect
local populations by reducing territorial access and potentially altering eating habits and food security
due to mercury contamination in the first decades of operation (Canton and Lucotte 2015).
Maximizing reservoirsusefor example, using them to harvest wind as well as hydro energycould
alleviate some concerns (Canton and Lucotte 2015). In addition, negative effects of new hydroelectric
dams could be reduced by following existing best practices such as avoiding area-intensive develop-
ments in high or sensitive biodiversity zones (Miller et al. 2015). Béland and Ross (2015, p. 15)
remarked that construction of ::: new infrastructures will inevitably take place on Aboriginal land.
The consultation, collaboration, and prior consent of the affected First Nation communities should
therefore be prerequisites to the implementation of an energy policy :::.
Finally, a frequent argument for continued support of the fossil fuel sector is the widespread notion
of no oil, no jobs(Payne and Stanford 2015;Robitaille 2015). The low-carbon shift would
profoundly impact job markets. Workers in shrinking sectors would need to be offered training and
re-qualification for new jobs (Bouchard-Boulianne 2015;Donahue-Harden 2015;Lee 2015). These
risks led some contributors to call for divestment from fossil fuels and investment in renewable ener-
gies (Donahue-Harden 2015;Meloche 2015;Small and Havens 2015). Expanding sectors such as
home renovation, energy efficiency, and public transport infrastructure could then benefit from job
creation (Bouchard-Boulianne 2015;Lee 2015;Payne and Stanford 2015;Robitaille 2015).
Energy consumption
Scholarsproposal
Realistic visions for a sustainable Canada require new ways of contemplating mobility (Richard and Perl
2010), shifting public attitudes and behaviours, and forward-thinking decision-making that
provides access to alternative mobility modes. In Canada, energy consumption centres around two pri-
mary areas: (i) transportation (24% of emissions) and (ii) buildings (11% of emissions) (Environment
Canada 2013). Despite a 29% countrywide improvement in building energy efficiency between 1990
and 2007, overall energy use jumped 7% due to an increase in number of households and average home
size (Office of Energy Efficiency 2010). Cities, home to 81% of Canadians, concentrate emissions and
could become foci of mitigation actions. Local governments have control over critical sources of emis-
sions such as those related to transport (Betsill 2001;Bulkeley and Betsill 2005). Furthermore, climate
change impacts are often felt at the scale of cities (Wilbanks and Sathaye 2007).
Many factors combine to affect choice of transportation mode, including household structure, age,
gender, time and cost of trips on various networks, parking availability and cost at destination,
presence of children in the household and their travel needs, level of car ownership, and weather
conditions. When rethinking Canadas transportation system, development of new transportation
technology and changing behaviour as it relates to mobility are important goals for innovation and
could be magnets for research and development. Landscape and open-space planning is tied to mobil-
ity; smartcity planning reduces the need to travel and creates space for active transportation such as
bicycling and walking. Throughout Canada, cities are increasing urban density, mixed land uses, and
nonautomobile transportation options, while encouraging climate-friendly buildings and reduced
energy consumption. Energy, transport, and building infrastructure last several decades and lock
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development along specific pathways (Lecocq and Shalizi 2014). Government investment should bear
in mind that infrastructures built today must foster and sustain the transition to a low-carbon future
(Nilsson and Eckerberg 2007). The Government of Canadas Green Infrastructure Fund could
thereforeplayakeyroleintheCanadiantransition(Infrastructure Canada 2015). By 2035, nearly
three quarters of Canadas buildings will be new or renovated, offering the opportunity to promote
a less carbon-intensive built environment.
Civil society responses
Low-carbon transportation involving more diverse modes and increased transit options (Benhaddadi
et al. 2015;Payne and Stanford 2015;Sanchez Valero 2015) may provide numerous benefits. These
could include expansion of the car-sharing economy (Boston 2015), job opportunities vis-à-vis crea-
tion of public transportation infrastructure (Bouchard-Boulianne 2015;Payne and Stanford 2015),
enhancement of quality of life through reduced noise pollution, commuting time and road accidents
(Lee 2015), and improving public health (Boston 2015;Lee 2015;Suleman 2015). According to
Benhaddadi et al. (2015), city design supported by principles of functional and social density and
diversity must include access points to efficient public transit networks. Similarly, Torrie (2015) envi-
sions mixed-use, high-density cities reducing emissions, fuelled by reduced car dependence and
changes in mobility needs. Bostons (2015) ideal future Canadian cities have a mixed-use neighbour-
hood model where, just like costs of transportation, costs of pollution are internalized. Additionally,
for Lee (2015),complete communitiesshould reflect social equity across ages, incomes, and abilities,
by offering affordable housing, accessible residential homes, and care units.
Implementation
Scholars recognized the need for novel institutional frameworks and financing options that would
enable municipalities to play a crucial role in choosing and implementing climate actions related
to energy consumption. Land value tax financing alone is insufficient, because it can facilitate
developer-led urban sprawl. New financing approaches such as divesting from planned road and
highway expenses could be considered. Valuation of natural and constructed landscapes for
ecosystem functioning and environmental management benefits (e.g., climate change mitigation
via thermal cooling; Hough 2004), would be an important paradigm shift in municipal and provin-
cial planning.
For Small and Havens (2015), electric public transit systems should be a primary focus of action.
Diversification and increased availability of urban and interurban transit will help reduce the
single-occupant carparadigm (Sanchez Valero 2015), whereas regulations could also play a key role
in increasing passenger and freight vehicle efficiency (Bruce and Kadowaki 2015). Biofuels are pro-
posed as a potential contribution to low-carbon transportation (Bruce and Kadowaki 2015;Sanchez
Valero 2015;Torrie 2015). Benhaddadi et al. (2015) suggested engaging the forestry sector in the
low-carbon transition via carbon stock management and biofuel production to help sustain local
economies.
Cities could facilitate the adoption of renewable energy through district energy, producing and
distributing renewable energy for heating and hot water (Boston 2015;Lee 2015;Small and
Havens 2015).Existingbuildingscouldharnesslocalrenewableenergysuchasgeothermalpower
(Small and Havens 2015); however new building codes and efficiency standards are also needed
(Benhaddadi et al. 2015;Small and Havens 2015).Buildingformhasanimpactonenergyefficiency:
multiplexes, row houses, and townhouses are more efficient than standalone houses, whereas wood-
framelow-risescanbe25%lessexpensive to build than concrete buildings (Benhaddadi et al. 2015;
Teasell, cited in Boston 2015).
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Concerns
Béland and Ross (2015) observed that Indigenous communities have a distinct reality; federal funding
should aim to collaboratively improve quality of life on and off reserves as well as develop culturally
and environmentally appropriate buildings. Donahue-Harden (2015) supported retrofitting pro-
gramsincorporation of mechanisms to reduce social inequity. Manitobas pay-as-you-save program,
through which Manitoba Hydro pays upfront energy upgrade costs and households pay from utility
bill savings, was cited as an inspiring example (Table 2). Boston (2015) called for win-win situations
like establishing secondary suites or separate units in low-occupancy homes for additional income
during retirement.
A new climate narrative: learning from the past
The first lessonemphasized by the scholars as well as by several contributors from civil societyis that
many past extraction projects did not engage in meaningful consultation and led to little or no benefit
sharing with Indigenous peoples (Béland and Ross 2015). Low-carbon pathways must include full
nation-to-nation partnerships with Canadian Indigenous peoples, who from the onset should play a key
role as full partners in the transitions dialogue and implementation (Béland and Ross 2015;
Donahue-Harden 2015;Payne and Stanford 2015). Given Indigenous Title, Indigenous and Treaty
Rights of First Nations, Inuit Land Claims, and the special circumstances of Métis and Non-Status
Indians, the distinct jurisdictions of Indigenous peoples must be acknowledged in practice (land and
Ross 2015). It is essential to recognize Indigenous peoplesabilities and rights to manage resources and
lands and the role of traditional ecological knowledge for more sustainable community development.
Asecondlesson,highlightedbyPayne and Stanford (2015), concerns the pace at which natural
resources, especially, but not only, oil, are extracted. Shifting away from our boom and bustmental-
ity (e.g., bulk export of raw bitumen) would facilitate the creation of more sustainable development
pathways. This would ensure long-term jobs by increasing Canadas value-added contributions to
natural resources both downstream and upstream of the point of extraction. In fact, Canadian energy
productivity is one of the lowest of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD) countries (OECD 2016). Torrie (2015) suggested that energy productivity could improve if
the service economy and manufacturing expanded at the expense of primary processing.
Torrie (2015) offered a third lesson when he proposed reframing the low-carbon transition challenge
to facilitate the emergence of socially attractive solutions. Adoption of green buildings, he argued, is
facilitated by their aesthetic, technical, and marketable value, whereas improvements in energy use
are often considered secondary co-benefits. Personal transportationcould likewise be reframed as
access, including all decisions and behaviours that reduce demand for personal mobility such as
telecommuting, working from home, and teleshopping.
It has been proposed that in a democracy collaboration between responsible enterprises and engaged
civil society is necessary to address global issues such as climate change (Mintzberg 2015). This paper
demonstrates the existence of a range of Canadian solutions from diverse sectors of society (Table S2)
and a wealth of existing inspiring initiatives (Table 2). Together with renewed leadership at the
federal level (Ayed 2015) and the willingness of provincial governments and Indigenous leaders to
engage in dialogue, this suggests that Canada is currently well-positioned to improve its climate action
record. Noting the inability of a doom-and-gloom narrative of climate change to evoke concerted
action, SCD reframed the issue to one of opportunities and solutions, garnering lavish praise from
the media (see e.g., Un plan Marshall pour le Canada;Asselin 2015). We hope the iterative process
of creating a climate narrative, including the search for consensus, broad engagement, and solution-
oriented discourse, could be used to inform discussion on climate change in Canada as the country
follows its COP21 commitments.
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Acknowledgements
The Sustainable Canada Dialogues initiative was developed by the UNESCO-McGill Chair Dialogues
on Sustainability and made possible thanks to support from the Trottier Institute for Science and
Public Policy, the Faculty of Science of McGill University, and C.P.s Tier 1 Canada Research Chair
Climate Change Mitigation and Tropical Forests. We would like to thank the contributors to Acting
on Climate Change: Extending the Dialogue Among Canadians for their feedback on the draft of this
paper. We would like to especially thank Alana Westwood, Ralph Torrie, Liette Vasseur, and Lana
Payne for helping sharpen the papers focus.
Author contributions
Conceived and designed the study: C Potvin. Contributed resources: C Potvin. Drafted or revised the
manuscript: C Potvin, D Sharma, I Creed, S Aitken, F Anctil, E Bennett, F Berkes, S Bernstein,
N Bleau, A Bourque, B Brown, S Burch, J Byrne, A Cunsolo, A Dale, D de Lange, B Dyck, M Entz,
J Etcheverry, R Faucher, A Fenech, L Fraser, I Henriques, A Heyland, M Holden, G Hoberg,
M Hoffmann, G Huang, A Jacob, S Jodoin, A Kemper, M Lucotte, R Maranger, L Margolis,
I Mauro, J McDonnell, J Meadowcroft, C Messier, M Mkandawire, C Morency, N Mousseau,
K Oakes, S Otto, P Palmater, TS Palmer, D Paquin, A Perl, A Potvin, H Ramos,
C Raudsepp-Hearne, N Richards, J Robinson, S Sheppard, S Simard, B Sinclair, N Slawinski,
M Stoddart, M-A Villard, C. Villeneuve, T Wright.
Competing interests
The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Data accessibility statement
All relevant data are within the paper and in the Supplementary Material.
Supplementary material
The following Supplementary Material is available with the article through the journal website at
doi:10.1139/facets-2016-0029.
Supplementary Material 1
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... Such system-level innovation involves questioning and challenging the narratives of development that support the powerful status quo of carbonized energy systems ( Luederitz et al., 2016). System entrepreneurs must find ways to reduce the resilience of dominant institutions (Westley et al., 2011) and change the conversation about carbon in public discourse at the community level (Cameron & Potvin, 2016;Potvin et al., 2017;Schweizer et al., 2013). ...
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Cambridge Core - Environmental Policy, Economics and Law - Urban Climate Politics - edited by Jeroen van der Heijden
... The transition to a low-carbon boreal (Canada) proposed in response to impending atmospheric change can take many policy pathways that prioritize environmental and socio-economic sustainability (see Government of Canada 2017; Potvin et al. 2017;Yeung 2018;). The main challenges of achieving such an outcome lie in the willingness of the government and all sectors of society to (i) urgently and dramatically reduce the emissions of GHGs and hazardous pollutants, when given a narrowing window of opportunity for avoiding a runaway climate feedback; and (ii) drastically reduce nonatmospheric stressors on ecosystems, particularly those associated Table 4. Examples of major synergies and trade-offs of the effects of atmospheric change on key ecosystem components of the Canadian boreal zone. ...
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