Sustainable Canada Dialogues: Canada's scientists and transitioning to a low-carbon future

For governments to make evidence-based decisions and policies, it is necessary to have robust support for science in the public interest. Furthermore, these decisions need to be transparently justified. The transition to a low-carbon economy in Canada will require both of these elements: scientific leadership to develop and implement sustainable alternatives, and political leadership to recognize and act on the well-substantiated threat of climate change.

Climate change poses a great threat to our economic stability, environmental integrity, and human welfare. Evidence for Democracy was asked to bring perspectives from Canada's scientific community to the Sustainable Canada Dialogues project, which brings together experts to guide our nation's transition to a low-carbon future. The full report, Acting on Climate Change: Extending the Dialogue Among Canadians, brings together policy recommendations from leaders across disciplines.

Evidence for Democracy's contribution, On the Role of Canada's Scientists in Transitioning to a Low-Carbon Future, makes four key recommendations for climate policy implementation:

  • Federal government leadership on climate and emissions policies, with recognition of scientific evidence for both emissions scenarios projections and low-carbon alternatives;
  • Increased funding support for federal scientific and monitoring institutions, particularly those engaged in data collection for air quality, water quality, and demographic information;
  • Sufficient funding to academic researchers engaged in non-commercial science, such as basic science, environmental research, and health research;
  • Climate and emissions policies and regulations that are transparent and informed by the best available evidence.

Canada's scientists are needed to help understand the challenges climate change poses, as well as develop the technology to make a low-carbon future imminently possible. In this contribution members of E4D's Network of Expertise give advice based on their expertise: Dr. W.R. Peltier (Professor of Physics, University of Toronto; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change author) discusses the need for evidence-based climate policy. Dr. John Stone (retired government science manager; IPCC author; adjunct Professor, Carleton University) brings home the impetus for an immediate transition. Dr. Tim Takaro (Professor of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University; Clinical Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Washington) discusses the evidence for climate change implications on human health. Finally, Alana Westwood (Research Director, Evidence for Democracy and PhD Candidate, Dalhousie University) lays out a framework for restoring the scientific capacity needed to usher in a low-carbon economy in Canada.