Theme #4: Structures and tools / Thème #4: Les structures et les outils

Theme #4: Structures and tools – what is still missing to inform climate policy and action?


Contribution and on line discussion From Monday September 14th at 12:00 pm to Friday 25th 2020 at 3:00 pm (EDT)


The fourth theme aims to discuss, in this case only through web-based discussions, the need for structures and tools to support research on climate policy and action. Despite the numerous and significant research efforts underway throughout the country on climate issues, there is no umbrella structure to facilitate the production, sharing and use of data and research results, as well as foster the interdisciplinary research required to address the multiple dimensions of climate issues. The development of such structures and tools could help the research community contribute to better climate policy and action.

Other jurisdictions have experimented with interdisciplinary structures for climate research. One example is the United Kingdom’s Energy Research Center, which regroups researchers at 20 different institutions working on how to address the challenges and opportunities in relation to transitioning to a net zero energy system. The interdisciplinary approach allows for research projects to be conducted on a variety of complex, multidimensional issues, through such activities as an energy modelling hub, a social engagement observatory, and work on energy, environment and landscapes.

In Canada, Ouranos represents an example of such a structure focusing on climate resilience and adaptation, acting as an innovation cluster involving more than 400 researchers and relevant actors who study the impacts of climate change, relevant socio-economic and environmental vulnerabilities and identify optimal adaptation strategies. Being a boundary organization, Ouranos also facilitates the financing of interdisciplinary and multi-institutional projects in order to better inform policymakers and support adaptation to anticipated climate change.

The development of better structures and tools would help enhance data usage, production and sharing – including through modelling efforts – to refine knowledge on adaptation, mitigation, and clean growth as well as contribute to a better understanding of the links between well-being and growth. The focus in this theme is on identifying what is needed to help the research community address gaps and deliver more to support the efforts to achieve the desired changes.

For instance, respondents pointed out the need to increase the sharing of standardized data, including at subnational levels whenever possible, on issues where data is lacking. Similarly, some respondents emphasized increasing the number of modelling efforts to help obtain more refined understandings of a variety of longer-term scenarios, for instance low growth/degrowth, projected costs of secondary impacts in relation to adaptation, how to maximize primary and co-benefits from public investments, development pathways for technologies, or planning for Canada’s changed position in the world after fossil fuels and quantifying benefits from diversification.

Excerpts from survey responses:

“Comparing how effective various mitigation policies (such as carbon tax, output-based pricing, cap and trade, renewable standards, etc.) are in reducing emissions and compare the negative economic and distributional impacts. Currently there is not enough empirical evidence to show which policy better keeps the right balance between the economy and environmental outcomes. This could help reducing conflicts between the federal and some provincial governments regarding the right approach to climate policies and could reduce redundant administrative costs related to court challenge”

“There are many gaps in data monitoring and availability that makes many adaptation metrics difficult to track.”

“The impacts on emissions resulting from land planning should be possible to estimate from modelling.”

This topic is therefore centered on the research itself: what are the structures and tools needed for researchers to be able to answer the fundamental questions linked to achieving climate objectives?

Given the survey results, there should be a special mention of the need for research to help develop a working definition of human well-being, with data that allows for the clear identification of overlaps and disparities when compared with GDP.

Excerpts from survey responses:

“What are the impacts of climate policies on well-being for different groups and socio-demographics?”

“How can research help define broader measures of wellbeing/progress (compared with GDP) that capture satisfaction, environmental health, resilience, etc.”

Example of questions to be discussed:

  1. What is needed for researchers to be more effective in climate research?
  2. Beyond the research questions developed in the thematic workshops, what should the research community focus on, and what is missing to do so?
  3. How can climate change-related data sharing and use be improved across both policy and research communities?
  4. What should be the priorities for new modelling efforts to fill gaps in knowledge for policy design?
  5. What is required to measure progress on well-being in a way that goes beyond GDP? 

Thème #4: Les structures et les outils – que manque-t-il encore pour soutenir les mesures et les politiques climatiques ?


Ce thème vise à discuter des besoins pour développer de meilleures structures et outils pour aider à faciliter l’utilisation, la production et le partage de données climatiques – incluant par la modélisation – et d’améliorer les connaissances sur l’atténuation, l’adaptation et la croissance propre. Ce thème se concentre ainsi sur la recherche elle-même : quelles sont les structures et outils nécessaires pour permettre aux chercheurs de répondre aux questions fondamentales liées à l’atteinte des objectifs climatiques ?

Contribution et discussion en ligne               Du lundi 14 septembre à 12:00 au vendredi 25 septembre 2020 à 15:00 (HAE)

Participants 3 Invite