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Universities Are a Critical Piece of the Climate Change Puzzle

By University of Toronto President Meric Gertler:

From forest fires to heat waves, flooding to extreme storms, the impacts of climate change were all too real for Canadians this summer. While the fight to prevent and mitigate the effects of our warming climate may seem unwinnable, Canada’s universities are playing a critical role in helping the country address the climate crisis and find solutions.

Canada’s universities include over 70 research centres and institutes and thousands of researchers and graduate students exploring ways to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. At centres across the country, researchers are tracking climate change impacts on our systems and infrastructure and developing projections to help communities prepare for increases in temperature and extreme weather events.

The University of Toronto, for example, hosts the Climate Positive Energy Initiative—a centre for interdisciplinary clean energy research. There, experts in science, social science, engineering, economics and policy put their heads together to transform our energy systems. Some of the projects underway involve leveraging artificial intelligence to optimize energy efficiency in buildings, analyzing impacts of policies such as the carbon tax and exploring how bacteria can help consume or recycle waste.

Such research centres exist across Canada, from the University of Victoria’s Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium in the west to the University of PEI’s Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation in the east.

Universities are also key partners in supporting resiliency and adaptation efforts in their local communities. Many are working closely with municipal governments, local industry, community organizations and with each other to handle climate-related emergencies and help mitigate the impacts of future crises.

The Concordia University-led UNIVER/CITY 2030 initiative, for instance, brings together the City of Montreal and Montreal-based universities to map climate research capacity, develop a common R&D agenda, develop a climate data centre, create a local school for hands-on learning related to climate action and foster other forms of municipal-level systems change.

Read the rest of the article on Universities Canada.