Collaboration is the Only Way Forward

Collaboration is the Only Way Forward

Climate change is the greatest challenge facing life as we know it on the Earth today. But before we plan the changes in technology, behaviours and industrial structures that will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we need to know what we are aiming for.

It is difficult enough for a deliberative body like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to set the broad objective of an 80 per cent GHG reduction by 2050. It is tougher still to decide what to do about it. To come up with a workable, practical plan, people have to sit down and think very carefully about what can be achieved. And that kind of methodical, clear-headed deliberation is exactly what the Trottier Energy Futures Project (TEFP) is about.

The TEFP is a forum for scientists, engineers, and collaborators from many other disciplines to identify all possible strategies for decelerating the accumulation of GHGs in the atmosphere, and hopefully reversing that trend. This is something we need to do together, as a community and as a society. We will need the energy, knowledge and creativity of all Canadians to achieve the 80 per cent target and contribute to a global braking effect on the acceleration of climate change.

This really is a moment when collaboration is the only way forward. It will also take time, education and a gradual process of change to transform Canada into a low-carbon economy. If we move too quickly, we will harm the economy, and hence our ability to develop the tools we need for a transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future. We will also need both human capital and financial capacity to get from here to there, and that means the next three decades will call for a tricky balance between moving quickly enough, but not so quickly that we undermine our capacity to do so.

The Trottier Project has made tremendous progress over the last two years. I am very proud of the productive partnership between the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Trottier Family Foundation that has made this work possible. We have had some difficult discussions because we are addressing difficult problems, but always with the shared objective of arriving at the highest-quality results. And we have achieved a significant degree of agreement that is a precursor to the kind of consensus that will be required throughout Canadian society if we hope to make the transition to a low-carbon future.

Richard Marceau is President of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and Provost and VP Academic at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology

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