On Tuesday, May 9th, 2023, the Toronto Science Policy Network (TSPN) hosted a panel titled “Canada’s Response to Climate Change”. Molly Segal, a journalist and producer for CBC Radio’s climate solutions program, What On Earth, served as moderator. Our panel of experts featured both a scientist and economist who answered questions about the climate adaptation policies that Canada has been implementing and their relative success in moving us forward.
The expert panel consisted of:
Dr. Alexandra Lesnikowski, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment at Concordia, who leads the Climate Change Adaptation Research Lab, and Glen Hodgson, a macroeconomics and finance expert whose career has spanned Finance Canada, the IMF, EDC, and the Conference Board of Canada, where he was chief economist for over a decade.
Unfortunately, our intended third panellist, Dr. Christina Hoicka, was unable to join us.
We started the event by asking our panellists: If you had three minutes with a decision-maker what one climate policy would you pitch or what key piece of research would you want them to know about? Dr. Lesnikowski said that she would prioritize discussing necessary research on assessment and evaluation of current policies:
Glen Hodgson focused his pitch on fiscal priorities, saying that while the government’s current funding is on the right track, there needs to be a significant increase in funding to support green initiatives:
Whether the response was that we have not invested the money that is necessary to advance our adaptation strategies, or that we have not even determined a proper way to measure our success, these answers featured a common theme that continued to come up from both panellists: Canada currently is not prepared for climate change.
Both experts also discussed inclusivity in developing our climate policy strategy. For one, though there has been a push to include indigenous knowledge alongside western climate science, the panellists agreed that the government needs to do more to empower indigenous leaders in decision-making. They also said that the people who would be the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change are historically underrepresented groups and that we need to make sure that policies and budgetary priorities are looking out for them. Climate change will amplify inequality and poverty and we need to prioritze our limited money to protect the most vulnerable.
Lastly, another theme that arose is that it is essential to address the root causes of climate change instead of just short-term relief for disasters. Climate disasters tend to get a large amount of funds simply because their urgency demands them. However, without addressing the root causes of climate change, we will continue to see disasters, and the need for funding to manage these disasters in turn make it more difficult to budget for addressing root causes. This ultimately, and cyclically, will result in more immediate disasters.
A recording of this panel can be viewed below or on the TSPN Youtube channel. We would like to thank our experts for their excellent discussion points and the expertise that they brought to this panel, and everyone who participated in the event!