Climate Data Roundtable

Climate Data Roundtable
Climate data – projections about what the future climate will look like in terms of temperature, precipitation, etc. – helps a variety of end users, including governments and companies, make more climate resilient long-term investment decisions.
However, in Ontario, access to such data data is a key policy challenge. Many end users in Ontario don’t know where to find the data, or how to use it in a scientifically sound way, meaning that many capital spending decisions are being made without regard to the changing climate.
In January 2015, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) brought together a range of stakeholders and experts for a one-day roundtable, with the goal of exploring the needs of climate data end users and providers, the opportunities and barriers to greater uptake of climate information, and potential governance models to help move towards appropriate solutions in Ontario.
The roundtable consisted of a series of presentations followed by small-group discussions. The invited participants came from federal, provincial, municipal and regional governments, academia, conservation authorities, companies, environmental organizations, and industry associations, and every effort was made to ensure a diversity of views at each table.

The day was organized into three main themes:

  • Climate Data User Needs, focused on understanding the current state of climate data and information in Ontario, and the challenges end users face in using and accessing this data.
  • Future Directions for Climate Data, focused on exploring current climate data initiatives by various levels of government and academia, and how they could better meet the needs of end users.
  • Governance Models, focused on the role of the private and public sector in delivering climate data to end users in a more accessible format. It also explored the governance models of climate services organizations in other jurisdictions and how applicable they may be to Ontario.

More information about this roundtable, including the agenda and presenter slides, is available here.

The OCC’s Response to the MOECC’s Climate Change Discussion Paper

Climate Change Discussion Paper
March 29, 2015

Kathy Hering
Senior Policy Analyst
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Climate Change and Environmental Policy Division
Air Policy and Climate Change Branch
77 Wellesley Street West, Floor 10
Toronto, Ontario M7A2T5

Dear Ms. Hering,

Re: Ontario Climate Consortium (OCC) comments on EBR Registry Number 012-3452 Climate Change Discussion Paper

The Ontario Climate Consortium (OCC) is pleased to have an opportunity to provide input on the development of a long-term climate change strategy for Ontario that puts us on a path towards resilient communities that:

1. Are able to cope with the long-term climate change and potential extreme weather associated with a 2 to 4 degree C rise in temperatures, and
2. Reduce carbon emissions to achieve defined targets.

The Ontario Climate Consortium (OCC) was established in 2011 following consultations with climate change researchers and practitioners across the province that identified a need to build capacity at the local and regional level to respond to climate change through applied research and knowledge mobilization. These initial consultations identified a wide range of existing research, data, information, and resources to support the climate change agenda at the local and regional level in Ontario, as well as numerous knowledge gaps which present a barrier to progress in adaptation.

The OCC was established with the goal of identifying and addressing these knowledge gaps, and mobilizing existing research and resources, to support local and regional climate change planning and action. The OCC aims to achieve this goal via interdisciplinary collaboration. To that end the OCC has a growing membership base consisting of Universities, Conservation Authorities, and municipalities who help define our research agenda. To implement our research agenda we collaborate with a wide range of external stakeholders, including the private sector, professional associations, and industry associations.

Since 2011 the OCC has made considerable strides towards achieving its goal. Notable achievements include:

  • Municipal risk and vulnerability assessments: The OCC is supporting municipal partners at the Region of Peel, York Region, and the Greater Hamilton Area with climate trends analysis and the development of risk and vulnerability assessments.
  • Annual Symposia: The OCC has organized two annual symposia that have brought together academics experts, municipal and provincial policy makers, and the private sector to discuss climate change research needs. Organization of the third annual Symposium is underway, and will be hosted by McMaster University. We are expecting another successful event with more than 150 attendees from across the province.
  • Career development opportunities: The OCC has enabled 15 students and recent graduates from five Ontario universities to gain valuable career experience in the climate change field through internships.
  • Land use planning policy and climate change: OCC and partners including York University, OCCIAR and Zizzo-Allan-DeMarco are currently working on a research project for the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) that will identify best practice recommendations for integrating climate change mitigation and adaptation into the provincial land-use planning framework.
  • Climate science: The OCC is developing an analysis of Great Lakes climate change science for Environment Canada in collaboration with a PhD. student and Dr. Gail Krantzberg from McMaster University.

The OCC’s top five OCC recommendations emerging from our review of the Ministry’s climate change discussion paper are as follows:

  1. Emphasize smart growth and transit-oriented development as part of coordinated review of Ontario’s land use plans
  2. Effectively utilize Ontario’s natural ecosystems systems to help to offset and mitigate GHG emissions.
  3. Support community-level risk and vulnerability assessments, and adaptation planning through pilot demonstration projects
  4. Consider a hybrid carbon pricing approach and use revenue to support a virtuous cycle of investment in mitigation and adaptation research and action
  5. Fund university-based research and help mobilize knowledge and expertise in support of good public policy and investment at all levels of government.

Smart growth and transit-oriented development are critical for long-term success

Based on our experience with current and past projects, we would strongly recommend a land use planning agenda that prioritizes compact mixed use communities. This agenda should be implemented across all settlement types, from urban to rural, in order to protect and enhance existing agricultural and natural areas, and enhance the viability of public transportation options. This smart growth agenda should be designed to deliver “win-wins” or synergies with other public policy goals (i.e. mitigation, adaptation, economic development, food security, public health, affordable housing, mobility, improved public infrastructure, etc.).

From our perspective it is clear that successful implementation of a long-term climate change strategy will require a strong focus on addressing the persistent tendency towards urban sprawl that has characterized land use planning in Ontario over the past several decades. This is not to argue that the Province should emphasize urban climate change policy to the exclusion of rural areas. Indeed, we recognize the important inter-dependencies between urban and rural areas in the province, which may become more important in a future likely characterized by higher energy prices and increased risks to food supply in many parts of the world. Ontario’s urban areas will need to rely more on local sources to maintain food security which implies an increased emphasis on protecting and enhancing existing agricultural land, as opposed to the continued expansion/encroachment of urban land into agricultural areas that has characterized the past several decades in southern Ontario.

We are encouraged by the Province’s efforts to encourage smart growth, as represented by the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Plan Conservation Plan, and the Niagara Escarpment Plan. The coordinated review of these plans provides an opportunity to strengthen and enforce targets for urban densification – particularly those relating to development in greenfield areas. The bottom line is that Ontario needs an urban development path that emphasizes compact communities complemented by accessible employment centres and amenities where residents can work and play using low impact modes of transportation – including non-motorized modes such as walking and cycling, as well as public transit for longer distance trips.

Effectively utilize Ontario’s natural ecosystems systems to offset and mitigate GHG emissions.

Natural areas, including forests and wetlands, play a vital role in creating resilience to climate change by, for example, reducing the urban heat island effect that is anticipated to worsen as the temperature rises, as well as managing storm water runoff, thereby reducing flooding associated extreme with weather events. Complementing green infrastructure at the site or district level, larger urban forests can be used to provide a multitude of ecosystem services that enhance adaptive capacity (e.g. clean water, flood attenuation, habitat diversity, climate moderating of urban heat island etc.) while also supporting mitigation efforts by sequestering carbon. For example:

  • Urban afforestation absorbs carbon as well as help to infiltrate stormwater, thereby limiting GHG emissions in addition to reducing flood risks during extreme rain events. Urban forests also help to moderate the urban heat island effect, thereby enhancing local adaptive capacity to heat waves.
  • Urban/peri-urban agriculture helps to mitigate climate change by reducing the food miles travelled from farm to fork.
  • Green roofs reduce GHGs by limiting the need to cool buildings with electricity-intensive systems, and enhance resiliency by absorbing stormwater, thereby helping to reduce flood risk during extreme rain events.

While green infrastructure in urban and rural areas are critical for addressing local and regional vulnerabilities, Ontario’s vast boreal forest holds global significance as a unique ecosystem and carbon sink. A warming climate puts this ecosystem, and the carbon stored within it, at risk. The Government should devote resources to better understanding these risks and options to mitigate them, through collaborative university-based research.

Government should support community-level risk and vulnerability assessments, and adaptation planning through pilot demonstration projects

There is a need for a better understanding of climate risk and vulnerabilities in communities and economic sectors across Ontario. There are existing tools being used in Ontario, such as the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC) template to assess built infrastructure vulnerability to climate change, and the Ontario Climate Consortium’s P-CRAFT tool that is currently being used to assess the vulnerability of numerous sectors and systems in the Region of Peel, including Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. The development of these, and other related tools, should be supported by the province through funding support for pilot demonstration projects for both the built environment and the natural heritage system, and knowledge dissemination to actors at the municipal levels to support further implementation of best practice in risk and vulnerability assessment.

Consider a hybrid carbon pricing approach and use revenue to support a virtuous cycle of investment in mitigation and adaptation research and action

One of the key questions surrounding the issue of climate change mitigation and adaptation is funding. How, given the fiscal constraints facing both the Province and its municipalities, can we afford the massive infrastructure investment required to develop low-carbon resilient communities? A potential solution to this vexing problem lies in the province’s approach to carbon pricing.

The OCC supports an approach to carbon pricing that is administratively simple, provides a predictable revenue stream, and addresses the majority of Ontario’s emission sources. While this can be construed as implicit support for a carbon tax, the reality is that the two leading approaches (tax or trade) are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, the province could consider a hybrid approach using cap-and-trade to address stationary point source emissions in the industrial and electricity sectors combined with a carbon tax to address diffuse emission sources in the transportation and buildings sectors. This hybrid approach could be supplemented with a carbon offset system designed to incentivize high-quality additional emission reductions from the agriculture, waste and forestry sectors, thereby creating economic development opportunities across urban and rural communities in the province.

Regardless of the choice of instrument – carbon tax, or cap-and-trade – carbon pricing will provide a significant revenue stream. British Columbia’s “revenue-neutral” carbon tax brings in more than $1 billion annually, which is returned to individuals and businesses via tax cuts. In California, where lawmakers expect sales of greenhouse gas pollution permits to bring in USD$5 billion annually, significant portions of revenue are used to fund low-carbon infrastructure investment. There is empirical evidence to suggest that the California approach of using carbon pricing revenues to support low-carbon investment enjoys higher levels of public support than a revenue-neutral approach. We encourage the Ministry to consider the use of carbon pricing revenue to support a virtuous circle of investment in mitigation and adaptation research, development of new energy efficient technologies and targeted action across the province.

Fund University-based research and help mobilize knowledge and expertise in support of good public policy and investment at all levels of government.

Low-carbon resilient infrastructure investment in Ontario needs to be supported by research and expertise from both the public and private sectors. The OCC’s University partners are home to considerable expertise in the areas of climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as green technology development, but there needs to be financial support from the provincial government to help mobilize university-based knowledge to support decision-makers in policy and investment responses to climate change. Through increased financial support towards climate change research, Ontario can build capacity as a leader in mitigation and adaptation initiatives that are supported by sound science, research and technologies


The OCC appreciates the opportunity to participate in this important provincial discussion. The ideas presented above are just a few of the most important that emerged out of our review of the Ministry’s discussion paper. We look forward to continuing our engagement in the development and implementation of Ontario’s long-term climate strategy and five-year action plan later this year. Please do not hesitate to contact Ian McVey, OCC’s Project Manager responsible for Research Mobilization and Communications, at 416-451-1420 or should you have any further questions regarding our comments.
Yours truly,

Professor Gordon McBean, C.M., O.Ont, Ph.D., FRSC | Western University
Chair, the Ontario Climate Consortium (OCC)
President, International Council for Science (ICSU)
Director, Research and External Relations, Centre for Environment and Sustainability, Western University

Noel Sturgeon, Dean of Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
Altaf Arain, Director of the Centre for Climate Change, McMaster University
John Livernois, Vice President for Research, Guelph University
Chandra Sharma, Director Watershed Strategies, Toronto Region Conservation Authority

Identification and Validation of Extreme Weather Indicators for Agricultural Production and Rural Resilience in Ontario

Project Background

AAFC_GrantWork has just begun with researchers from the Laboratory of Mathematical Parallel Systems (LAMPS) based at York University, to identify and validate extreme weather indicators pertaining to agricultural production and rural resiliency for two case study areas in Ontario. This research is being supported by the OCC in collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to produce information that will contribute to a multi-year project focused on developing and modeling adaptive management responses to extreme weather and climate change in two rural communities in Ontario.


  • Laboratory of Mathematical Parallel Systems (LAMPS), York University
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Carleton University
  • IISD

Project Information

Additional updates on project’s progress and the newly formed project advisory committee will be provided shortly. 


The Climate March is On!

By South Bend Voice [<a href=


On September 21st, hundreds of thousands of individuals and organizations participated in the People’s Climate March in cities around the globe. In New York City alone, the crowd was estimated at 300,000 strong. While the crowd in Toronto may have been smaller the enthusiasm was the same. In whatever city the march began, the aim from Melbourne to New York was to mobilize individuals and highlight the need for government leaders to take action on climate change by moving away from unsustainable fossil fuels and moving towards more clean energy by 2050.

The People’s Climate March (#PCM) in New York included the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon himself, who on Tuesday will open the UN’s upcoming climate summit with an aim to mobilize leaders from around the world to take action “that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015.” Canada will be represented by Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq at the climate summit, not by Prime Minister Stephen Harper who will be addressing the UN General Assembly later in the week. What does this say about Canada’s commitment to addressing climate change? Well, in the recent past, Canada has earned a reputation as a laggard on climate change action and has frequently won the ‘Fossil Award’ for its lack of progressive action at various UN sponsored climate change negotiations as well as other actions including the Canadian Government’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol

At the provincial level, the new Minister of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Glen  Murray (who took part in the New York march) appears committed to addressing climate change and has stated that, “fighting climate change and working to keep our air, land, and water clean will ensure Ontario’s prosperity and quality of life for today and future generations.” At the same time regional and city-level municipalities are increasingly mobilized to address both climate mitigation and adaptation.

Having had the opportunity to take part in Toronto’s People’s Climate March and having heard the stories of the massive numbers of people that attended similar events around the planet the momentum generated from this grassroots efforts has been incredible. Today, hundreds of protesters once again took to the streets of New York City, this time, specifically Wall Street. The #FloodWallStreet campaigners staged a pizza party sit-in while at the same time the heirs to Standard Oil fortune, the now Rockefeller Foundation committed to divesting from fossil fuels. A momentous announcement for an organization that was build on the development of fossil fuels.

The call for action has been trumpeted from crowds across the globe. The question remains as to whether or not global leadership has heard the call  at a time of such global unrest (e.g., the West-African Ebola outbreak, the conflict in the Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere). While the upcoming climate summit will undoubtedly come with a heavy helping of rhetoric, the call for action has never been louder. While the impacts and costs of climate change continue to grow so do the numbers of people calling for action locally and internationally. What is clear is that while the People’s Climate March on Sunday the 21st may have been the world’s largest to date, that record is not likely to stand very long given the tremendous up-welling of support for global action on climatechange.

If you’re interested in sharing your story of participation in  the People’s Climate March please contact us on Twitter @ontarioclimate.

Image: By South Bend Voice [<a href="">CC-BY-SA-2.0</a>], <a href=”;s_Climate_March_crowd_with_banner.jpg”>via Wikimedia Commons</a>

A Year of Extremes | Tracking Change with Twitter and JS Timeline

July 10, 2014

At roughly this time last year, Toronto and Calgary were both affected by record breaking flood events. The flooding in Toronto on July 8th resulted in damages totaling $940 million making it the costliest extreme weather event in Ontario’s history and the third most costly event in Canadian history. Insurance claims for the flooding event in Calgary in June 2013 exceeded $1.7 billion which made it the costliest event in Canadian history. As storm clouds and severe thunderstorm warning were issued for Toronto on July 8 2014 one couldn’t help but feel a little nervous – at the time of posting this blog no equivalent disasters  had been reported in Toronto. That being said, in the southern prairies over 40 communities declared a state of emergency at the end of June 2014 as a result of widespread flooding. The prairies were impacted by similar flash flooding in the summer of 2011 which also saw  the very same communities declaring a states of emergency. The records set in 2011 are unfortunately at risk of being broken only three years later.

TorontoStorm_TimelineFollowing the massive flooding in Toronto the OCC undertook an initiative to use an application called JS Timeline developed by the Knight Lab at Northwestern University to track reporting on the flood’s impacts via media and social media (Twitter, Facebook). Building on that impromptu pilot, the OCC undertook a small initiative to track and compile a list of extreme weather events reported in both Canada and across the globe. Also included in the timeline are key climate change reports that have been published since July 2013. While this is not an exhaustive list, it provides a good overview of the different types of extreme events that have occurred in that period. On the anniversary of these two significant events we wanted to share our findings and hopefully begin a larger discussion around climate change and extreme weather impacts.

Going through the timeline, it is interesting to see the number of tornadoes, droughts, and floods that have occurred over the last year. Once again, Ontario made the list for the ice storm that occurred in late December 2013. Another interesting phenomenon of note were the frost quakes  that occurred in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in early January. We could get into an entire discussion regarding the ‘polar vortex’, but let’s leave that for another day. There were other major storms that occurred internationally over the past year that had major impacts in different areas. In the summer of 2013, eastern Russia was faced with the worst flooding it had seen in 100 years. In early January, a one-in-500 year flood occured in Germany. Gaza was faced with a once-in-a-century storm in December which resulted from torrential downpours and snowfall. Brazil was hit by deadly flooding in December following its worst drought in 50 years. In North America, California has been dealing with a drought that began in December 2013  - the implications of which are still emerging. These are just some examples of the low probability, high impact events that have occurred over the last year.

AtimelineofextremeOverall, it is evident that across the planet communities and entire regions are being impacted by extreme weather events. International organizations and the national governments are worried. While is is difficult to associate one extreme event with climate change, it is generally acknowledged that climate change may result in a higher frequency and severity of extreme weather events. This is reality is acknowledged by the international community (SREX Report) and most recently the Canadian Federal government in their climate change report. These publications among others including one released by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario on July 9th serve to highlight the concern associated with an increasing trend in the frequency of extreme weather events and their associated impacts.

These events in turn have major financial implications for municipalities in Canada as well as communities around the world. Our small initiative represents an effort towards better understanding and communicating the extent to which extreme weather continues to impact the communities where we live, work and play. We’ve found our timeline project helpful in visually depicting the sheer number of challenges we face – that being said, a incredible opportunity still exists to proactively address climate impacts and hopefully mitigate the effects of a changing climate. For more on this you may wish to check out the recent Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) (again released this week) focused on describing practical steps towards a low-carbon economy that addresses both climate change and larger international development objectives. We’ll add it to our list and keep our fingers crossed – hopefully it will be a slow ‘extreme weather’ week for Ontario.



About the bloggers

Stewart Dutfield is a program and communications manager with the Ontario Climate Consortium. His interests lie in climate change risk management and climate change communications. Simran Chattha is a research analyst with the Ontario Climate Consortium. Her research interests lie in the areas of environmental policy and climate change adaptation.

NRCan, the World Bank and Henry Paulson on the climate bubble.

June 24, 2014

NRCAN_WBreportsIn the last few days we’ve seen a number of high level reports, commentary and records broken with respect to the multi-faceted risks associated with climate change.  Only days ago NOAA reported that global average temperature for May 2014 was 0.74°C (1.33°F) higher than the global average since records began in 1880. Earlier today Natural Resources Canada released: Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation – an update to an earlier 2008 science assessment report, From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate.  In the Canadian context Natural Resources Canada reports surface air temperatures in Canada have risen 1.5 °C in period the 1950 – 2010. The complete report is now available from Natural Resources Canada. While temperatures continue to rise, we’ve become quite adept at developing reports documenting this reality. In addition to the Canadian report released today, the World Bank just issued its own report: Climate-smart development: adding up the benefits of actions that help build prosperity, end poverty and combat climate change. According to the report global GDP could rise by between $1.8 – $2.6 trillion dollars, by 2030 if governments were to adopt policies aimed at improving energy efficiency, waste management and public transportation infrastructure. On Sunday June 21st 2014, the New York Times published an op-ed  by former secretary of the US Treasury (2006 – 2009), Henry Paulson. Paulson’s op-ed entitled The Coming Climate Crash: Lessons for Climate Change in the 2008 Recession spoke to the tremendous risks associated with underestimating the costs of climate change, similar to the costs of underestimating the financial bubble that burst so spectacularly in 2008. Across the pond, Nicolas Stern’s recent report in The Economic Journal also reiterated that the costs associated with climate change have been underestimated. Other prominent bankers calling for action on climate change include the International Monetary Fund’s Christine Lagarde.

Shortly before Paulson’s op-ed was published President Obama used his executive powers to enact national legislation to limit carbon pollution from American power plants. Despite a recent judicial challenge of this regulation in the U.S. Supreme Court key aspects of the legislation were upheld by the justices by a 7-2 majority. At the national and international level the climate jockeying is well underway.  In boardrooms and courtrooms and increasingly living rooms, as evidenced by the viral videos by John Oliver, John Stewart and Showtimes’s primetime series Years of Living Dangerously the risks associated with climate change and its impacts are increasingly resounding at the policy level as well as that of pop-culture. It is also important to note the growing number of fossil fuel divestment campaigns underway globally. Only yesterday another large US university chose to divest  $670 million from fossil fuels. That being said, how will the results of glossy reports (well-written, researched and compiled by some very smart people) and op-eds inform real action on climate change with respect to mitigation and adaptation where people live and work?

JohnOliverClimateDebateWhether were discussing fractions of a degree or trillions of dollars it important to keep in mind that a changing climate is already impacting the health, wealth and security of million’s of people around the world.  Will climate change bring the global economy to its knees and with it global development gains (and the post 2008 ‘recovery’) or will national and international efforts underpin a revolution in our management of the global atmosphere the environment, the societies and economies it supports?

Stewart Dutfield is a program and communications manager with the Ontario Climate Consortium. His interests lie in climate change risk management and climate change communications.

Assessing Climate Change Risks to Natural Heritage Systems in the Region of Peel

June 16,2014

NatHeritage_calloutClimate change is anticipated to impact not only built infrastructure, for example roads, bridges, and electrical transformers, but also key components of natural heritage systems. The Region of Peel and its partners released its Climate Change Strategy in 2011 with key recommendations for: Reducing Vulnerability, Limiting Greenhouse Gases, and Strengthening Partnership. (Region of Peel, 2011). A key of the Strategy was to “complete a vulnerability and risk assessment of all infrastructures, of the community and of natural heritage.” Building upon initial work focused on climate change vulnerability and risk assessment in Port Credit and Caledon, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), in partnership with the Region of Peel, Credit Valley Conservation (CVC), Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), Ontario Centre for Climate Impact and Adaptation Resources (OCCIAR), and Ontario Climate Consortium (OCC) , is currently undertaking an assessment of the vulnerability of the natural heritage system to climate change within Peel Region.

In the fall of 2013, TRCA hosted stakeholders from throughout the region as part of an engagement workshop to better understand how the natural environment is viewed and valued by capturing the importance of ecosystems, their components and the services they provide to people who work and live in Peel Region. Ecosystem services are broadly defined as the benefits that people obtain from ecosystems, such as water quality regulation, clean water for drinking or irrigation and recreational benefits (MEA, 2005; Landers & Nahlik, 2013). From this consultation, together with guidance provided by the partnership, emerged the proposed scope of a Vulnerability and Risk Assessment on the Natural Heritage System in Peel Region.

The scope of this project includes examining relevant components of Peel’s natural heritage at a watershed/regional scale, such as rivers and streams, groundwater systems, urban and natural forests and wetlands; identifying important ecosystem services produced by each component; and then estimating component vulnerability based on the potential impacts due to climate change. It is assumed that ecosystem service delivery would change if impacts to the natural heritage components occur.

On May 8 of 2014, TRCA hosted a second workshop to facilitate a technical discussion surrounding the research framework for the project. Representatives from the Region of Peel, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Mississauga’s Credit Valley Conservation, and the Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptation Resources (OCCIAR) were present to provide valuable input. Workshop participants had the opportunity to hear presentations regarding the broader project context from the Region of Peel, the refined project scope and objectives outlined by the project manager, and directions and ideas for the vulnerability assessment from OCCIAR. Using input from subject matter experts, municipal stakeholders and partners (which recently broadened to include the University of Waterloo),research is now underway to better understand climate impacts for natural heritage components within Peel Region.

Expected outcomes from this project (Phase 1) include a relative vulnerability and risk distribution of natural heritage components in Peel Region presented through spatial mapping, as well as a detailed technical report qualifying vulnerability levels and risks on ecosystem services associated with climate change. Ultimately, technical findings will be translated in policy ready information and the development of recommendations to reduce vulnerability, protect, and adapt Peel Region’s natural heritage to climate change (Phase 2).


Landers, D., Nahlik, A. 2013. Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Classification System (FEGS-CS). Corvallis, Oregon: United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Western Ecology Division.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. Island Press, Washington, DC.

Region of Peel. 2011. Peel Climate Change Strategy – A Strategic Plan for Climate Change for the Geographic Region of Peel. Available online:

GlennMilnerGlenn Milner is an environmental engineer specializing in water resources. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Waterloo pursuing a master’s degree in climate change and is an Mitacs intern with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and Ontario Climate Consortium (OCC) . His research interests lie in harnessing co-benefits from climate change mitigation, adaptation and the sustainable growth of infrastructure.

Knowledge Exchange and Climate Change

March 16, 2011


Policy-Research-Day-300x279On March 1st, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit and the Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration (CC-RAI) co-hosted the York University Climate Change Policy & Research Day. This was the biggest event held so far as part of the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change project. The event demonstrated the value of seeking far greater research collaboration between researchers and policy makers to tackle climate change with the urgency it deserves.
We were fortunate to have as our chair Karen Kraft Sloan, Special Advisor on the Environment to the Vice President Research and Innovation, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies and Canada’s former Ambassador on the Environment.

This event brought together 3 distinct groups:

  • Policy staff from local and regional governments and community organizations from City of Toronto, the Region of Durham, the Region of Peel, Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), the Association for Canadian Education Resources (ACER), and York Region;
  • Researchers from York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) Peter Victor, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LAPS) Ali Asgary, Richard Bello, David Etkin, as well as Science & Engineering (FSE) Huaiping Zhu; and
  • Graduate students from across various academic disciplines.

Karen Kraft Sloan

Karen Kraft Sloan

In the morning, an audience of York graduate students and faculty as well as other invited policy staff observed an open forum between policy staff and researchers. The policy makers presented on climate change issues they face, shared adaptation strategies, and identified areas where they need expert opinions and more research. York’s professors responded with their ideas and presented their latest research on climate change impacts and adaptation.
Researchers and policy makers came together to address research gaps and explore potential research collaborations. For instance, the City of Toronto sought opinions on the best way to build a business case for adaptation to climate change while the Region of Peel was interested in working with York’s professors to develop a regional database of environmental statistics and economic data to help them in their decision making. The researchers, many of whom advise national governments on best practices for mitigating and adapting to climate change, were excited by the prospect of working with local policy makers towards home-grown solutions.

Policy Partners (Peel, Durham, ACER, York, TRCA)

Policy Partners (Peel, Durham, ACER, York, TRCA)

“It was really good for me personally to know the people who are working in this area and [I] would welcome any opportunity to collaborate with them in this very important line of research” said Ali Asgary, who is the Graduate Program Director of the York MA program in Disaster & Emergency Management.
Collaborations like this are key to getting Canada as a whole to achieve fair, ambitious, and binding carbon emissions reductions. “I enjoyed the panel discussions … the interaction between the academic/research perspective and the policy participants’ viewpoint was very interesting” said Nancy Rutherford who is the Principal Planner in the Policy Planning Branch at the Region of Durham.
York graduate students greatly enjoyed the lively panel. “I very much enjoyed the presentation. I gained a lot of valuable information” said Maryum Sherazi, a Masters of Environmental Studies (MES) student at York University. “I also enjoyed getting insights on the relationship between the policy makers and the researchers”.

Students. policy partners, and faculty

Students. policy partners, and faculty

Students and policy makers mingled in the afternoon session, which emphasized career pathing. “It was a valuable chance to meet senior policy makers who are doing such important work on climate change,” said Erica Stahl, a candidate in the joint MES/JD program at York University studying climate change and social justice. “Sometimes you forget that you can turn your passion into a career, and that your job can help make the world a better place. This event got me inspired again.” Everyone involved expressed their desire to build on the relationships forged at this event. “[It was] inspiring to meet [a] group working together towards greatest impact [on this issue]” wrote one participant in their evaluation form for the event.

The Knowledge Mobilization Unit worked with the organizations represented on the panel to profile a competition for five paid summer internships at the City of Toronto, the Region of Durham, Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), the Association for Canadian Education Resources (ACER); and York Region.

CC-RAI would like to thanks our policy partners for taking part as well as York faculty.

Faculty (front to back): Etkinds, Bello, Victor, Asgary, Zhu

Faculty (front to back): Etkinds, Bello, Victor, Asgary, Zhu

In the fall of 2011, the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change Project will host its Research Forum. This event will build on the successes of the Policy and Research Day and profile the student interns who will have completed their placements with our policy partners. March 1st was just the beginning.
This event also had a social media presence. It was live tweeted by a number of our participants with the hashtag #KMbCC. For a full transcript of the tweets, please see here. Gary Myers, Digital Researcher at York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit also wrote about the event on his blog, KMbeing. You may read Gary’s post by clicking here.

Sun Come Up – The story of the world’s first climate change refugees

March 16, 2011

CC-RAI invites you to the first Canadian screening of the Oscar-nominated short documentary, Sun Come Up – The story of the world’s first climate change refugees.

Join CC-RAI on Friday, April 1, 2011 from 4-6:30 pm

Nat Taylor Theatre, Keele Campus, York University.

Register now for your free ticket!

Sun Come Up Trailer from Sun Come Up on Vimeo.

Donations collected on the day of the event will support the House Raiser Project for the Carteret Islanders.

Stay tuned for more details!

Light refreshments will be served following the film.

Climate Change Research and Services: What information do stakeholders need?

June 20, 2011

On Monday May 30, CCRAI and OCAD University hosted a one day workshop – “Climate Change: A Dialogue with Stakeholders” – in support of the Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium (ORCCC). The event was attended by over forty participants from the all levels of government, conservation authorities, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations.

Climate Change: a Dialogue with Stakeholders

Climate Change: a Dialogue with Stakeholders

Today, municipalities, provincial ministries, public utilities, and private corporations lack access to consistent, high-quality information to guide necessary investments in climate change adaptation. To directly meet this gap, the Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium (ORCCC) was formed in 2011 to facilitate a new breed type of inter-disciplinary, cross-sector coordination that will empower key decision-makers to more efficiently and effectively assess and manage regional climate risk with more focused, reliable climate information.
The goal of the workshop was to facilitate a dialogue and build a sense of community among climate modelers, data analysts and practitioners; help private and public sector stakeholders identify their initial climate information and service needs from modelers; establish a basis for similar, future events to further define scientific needs by sector or problem area; and identify other stakeholders that need to be included in subsequent discussions.
Following presentations by climate modellers including Jack McConnell (York University),Claude Duguay (University of Waterloo) and Dick Peltier (University of Toronto) on the state of regional modeling science and its application, participants launched into an interactive dialogue focused on their identifying their concerns related to climate change and the development of effective adaptation strategies.

Climate Cafe - Identifying climate research needs

Climate Cafe – Identifying climate research needs

Over the course of morning and afternoon sessions, climate modellers and research scientists were able to discuss climate change issues with architects and designers, city planners, representatives from municipalities, as well as the provincial and federal government. The platform for the discussion resulted in extremely engaging conversation, so much so that participants kept working through breaks in the program (despite the fact fresh coffee was on offer). Working with professional facilitators Peter Jones (Design with Dialogue) and Nabil Harfoush (Manara), with support from Ciara de Jong at the City of Toronto’s Environment Office, Carl Knipfel and Doreen Balabanoff from OCAD University. CC-RAI would also like to thank TRCA, York University and OCAD University for their support in organizing this event.

Jack McConnell, Prof. of Atmospheric Science, York University

Jack McConnell, Prof. of Atmospheric Science, York University

The discussion produced a volume of material focused on assessing end-user needs for climate change information and services. This multi-sectoral event highlighted the need for improved collaboration and dialogue between the various stakeholders tasked with addressing climate change in their respective organizations and sectors. We look forward to posting the synthesis of the discussion in the coming weeks.


In collaboration with