The new Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (CICC), an independent think tank that begins life with C$20 million in federal funding over five years, is warning of the harsh realities and global economic shifts the country will face as the climate crisis evolves.
The institute formally launched yesterday with an inaugural report that “says change is coming whether the world shifts quickly, to low- and zero-emitting energy sources, or continues as it is, and then also has to face the social, economic, and environmental disruptions that ensue,” The Canadian Press reports .
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“I think there is no question that the game is changing,” said CEO Kathy Bardswick. “The realities of Canada’s position in the world, and how we’re going to ensure our prosperity going forward, is changing. How we provide value as a country is changing.”
“I hope that we’re able to contribute some really good, solid, evidence-based analysis and advice that looks at the issues and complexities of climate and what decisions the country is facing in a more integrated frame,” she added  in an interview with CBC. “The country is facing choices, they’re complex choices, and they need to be well supported.”
So far, the CICC “has mainly a virtual existence, with staff and experts spread across the country conferring with each other mostly through various online platforms,” CP says. “The board has met in person twice thus far, and there was an opening summit in November where members met in regional groups.”
But now, the institute “will produce at least three major reports a year across the three main areas of climate action: adapting to a lower-carbon reality, mitigating against the effects of a changing climate, and developing and producing the clean technology needed for both of those things.”
CBC reports that the institute’s 11 board members include former Privy Council Clerk Mel Cappe, former Ecofiscal Commission Chair Chris Ragan, and Dave Collyer, former president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Its three expert panels on adaptation, mitigation, and clean growth “are made up of some of Canada’s prominent experts and voices on climate policy,” including Blair Feltmate, Nancy Olewiler, Mark Jaccard, Nicholas Rivers, Jennifer Winter, Stewart Elgie, and Kathryn Harrison.
“Bardswick said everyone at the institute is aware of the anxieties and divisions that climate policies can create,” CP writes. “She said the hope is that if the institute can help develop a clear road map for Canada’s role, it could help calm everyone down.” While yesterday’s report sees emission reductions triggering “an economic transformation on a scale not seen since the first and second industrial revolutions,” it states “that even under some of the most aggressive decarbonization attempts, fossil fuels are expected to play some role for many decades,” CP says.
The CBC coverage ties yesterday’s announcement to the Harper government’s decision to shutter the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy in 2012, 25 years after it was established by then-prime minister Brian Mulroney. “At the time, Conservative environment minister Peter Kent said the roundtable was no longer needed because there were other organizations producing research and analysis,” CBC writes. “But another minister, John Baird, later suggested the Conservative government didn’t approve of what the roundtable was saying.”
Fast forward seven years, and “it seems like there is wave after wave of climate announcements, whether it’s corporate, whether it is international policy, whether it is climate impacts, like Australia. It just seems like these issues that we’re talking about are accelerating and becoming harder to manage and more complicated and more imminent in a lot of ways,” said Dale Beugin, the new institute’s vice president of research. “So it feels like this is the right time to try to bring some clarity to that conversation for Canadians.”