We are at a critical climate threshold. From the 2016 Fort McMurray forest fires, to droughts in many countries, to melting Arctic sea ice, we see increasing signs that humans are warming the planet and upsetting the balance that sustains life.
Recent government, marketplace and philanthropic sector changes in Canada have opened doors for strategic climate and energy work. It is no longer a question of whether we should take action for a low-carbon future, but how. Active, sustained collaboration from all parts of society, including philanthropy, is needed. By harnessing the power of collaboration and social innovation, we can move on the opportunities presented by a green economy and ensure a sustainable future for all people.
Canada’s challenge is to broadly shift, as quickly as possible, our energy systems and how our economy functions. Many actors are essential in driving this change, including municipal, provincial and federal governments, the private sector, civil society organizations and think tanks.
Our goal is to help ensure the long-term ecological health of the planet, while building social equitySocial equity: making sure everyone has equal access to community resources and opportunities such as housing, medical treatment, education, policing and transportation. and resilience. We can achieve this by encouraging low-carbon models in the corporate, community and public spheres, and by supporting effective national and regional climate and energy policies. Promising areas for development include energy efficiency, community energy systemsCommunity energy systems: networks for local production and distribution of low-carbon and renewable heat and power. and renewablesRenewables: energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale -- such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat.. Using our powers of convening, granting and investing, we aspire to test and scale innovations that accelerate the shift to a low-carbon economy.
It’s time to move away from emphasizing the obstacles we face in achieving a low-carbon economy and toward exploring and developing actionable solutions that will get us there. This includes developing our understanding of how Canadians can envision and support the shift to a cleaner economy and focusing on opportunities that blend economic and environmental objectives.
We are interested in using collaborative approaches and exploring new ways of framing the public narrative. By shifting the dominant conversation toward the opportunities and solutions of a low-carbon economy, we will move more quickly toward a cleaner future.
Implementing policies and practices which require business and community leaders to work in tandem, such as carbon pricingCarbon pricing: a method for reducing global warming emissions by making those who emit carbon dioxide pay for their emissions. It usually takes the form either of a carbon tax or a requirement to purchase permits to emit (cap-and-trade)., environmental purchasing policiesEnvironmental purchasing policies: policies that encourage the procurement of goods and services with reduced environmental impact. or integrated community energy planningIntegrated community energy planning: a community-based process that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, and encourage sustainable energy solutions in the community..
This includes supporting business associations, communities and companies to change the way they source and use energy. We seek new pathways to transition from dependence on fossil fuels to sustainable alternatives, including approaches such as circular economies. These pathways may include projects that:
- build capacity in Indigenous and other communities as they move from diesel to renewables
- assess and track carbon reductions, using collective approaches with communities or with industry groups
- assess and communicate the value and impact of energy efficiency.
This work includes supporting organizations (charities and non-profits, companies, communities, municipalities), or working in collaboratives to engage with governments in the transition from dependence on fossil fuels to sustainable alternatives.
In turn, non-profits are working to reshape relations with major stakeholders, including oil and gas companies, Indigenous communities and municipalities. We support policy change, including national planning for a shift toward green energy adoption. We seek out initiatives led by coalitions and alliances to help decision makers implement low-carbon policies.
There is untapped potential to reduce our carbon production. It requires engaging with technology enterprises, social organisations, municipalities and investors. Together, we can address barriers and enable innovation uptake. Game-changing advances in building more energy efficient systems include solar and wind energy storage, micro-grids and district energy systems, waste-to-energy technologies and solar roofs.
To accelerate the shift to a low-carbon economy, we aim to test and scale energy innovations. These include advances in renewables, energy efficiency and community-based energy projects, most notably in Indigenous communities. We support solutions finance projects, especially impact investing, which delivers financial returns along with social impact. Through loan guarantees, we lower risk for investing in green energy and encourage much larger investments. In short, we aim to help make investing in sustainable energy mainstream.