Governance Innovation and the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy

Authors: James Meadowcroft, Glen Toner, Dina Kutziubas, Milana Simikian, Leela Steiner

Carleton University won a grant from Carbon Management Canada to examine innovation in governance practices designed to accelerate the transition towards a low carbon Canada. The project is led by SPPA’s Professors James Meadowcroft and Glen Toner in partnership with Dr. Doug MacDonald at the University of Toronto.

The U of T project addresses the particular issue of distributional conflicts in the transition to a low carbon economy. The focus is on three dimensions of climate-related political conflict related to Canada: regional/intergovernmental; industrial; and social.

In order to advance Canada’s transition to a low carbon economy, the Carleton project examines the systems for climate governance, established by pioneer jurisdictions with particularly active climate policy in order to understand a) how these systems operate as a whole and b) to identity specific institutional innovations that hold wider promise.

To this end, the project has developed in two stages. First, the team selected innovative practices in pioneer jurisdictions and subsequently developed a master list of innovations in four European countries (UK, Sweden, Netherlands, and Germany). Then researchers produced five reports examining five institutions deemed most innovative with respect to climate governance, and evaluated their applicability to the Canadian context. They included the UK Green Investment Bank, the UK Committee on Climate Change, the Swedish Environmental Quality Objectives, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and the German Energy Agency.

The project then moves to a detailed focus on specific areas of governance, and reports will be generated on three key functions: mobilizing capital, promoting energy efficiency, and strategic planning.

Both the Carleton and University of Toronto projects generate recommendations to be shared with political decision makers and other interested stakeholders.

For more information on each of the two projects, click on the following links: