Exchanging Ideas on Climate
National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy
Exchanging ideas on Climate


One of the most pressing issues of our time

Climate change has emerged as the most urgent environmental and economic challenges facing our planet. Addressing this issue is one of the most complex policy challenges we have ever faced. Climate change is a global, unpredictable and somewhat unknown phenomenon that extends beyond our political borders. No one country can resolve the problem and no policy can guarantee success in meeting this challenge. Given that Canada has a growing population, an economy that is growing faster than its population, and an oil and gas sector that is growing faster than its economy, the task set forth is immense.

However, climate change offers opportunities for Canada to become a world leader in technology and innovation. Our future will be determined in large part by how we respond to these opportunities, but also to the threats posed by climate change.

The NRTEE’s climate research has focused on the challenges of GHG mitigation strategies through carbon pricing and climate change adaptation in Northern Canada. (more...)


Powering forward, using less

Vast travel distances between cities, a cold climate, an energy-intensive industrial base, relatively low energy prices, and a high standard of living – no wonder Canada ranks as the world's sixth largest user of primary energy. Energy use of this magnitude has a significant impact on the environment. The combustion of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases; mineral exploration and mining can disrupt local ecosystems, while oil spills damage water, plant, and animal life.

As our population climbs and our appetite for energy continues to grow, a key challenge for Canada is to generate the energy required to maintain our standard of living without further compromising the planet’s health. The solution lies in knowledge sharing, progressive policy, better use of existing technologies and the development of new ones. Energy efficiency and renewable energy are said to be the “twin pillars” of a sustainable energy policy.

At the NRTEE, we believe that the right policies can promote the widespread development and use of green technologies in our economy and throughout the country. It could also transform Canada into a leading provider of clean energy to the world. (more...)


The Blue Gold

Canada is blessed with an abundance of fresh water, but we are not immune to the challenges of more demand, a finite supply, and the effect of population and economic growth, as well as climate change on water quantity and quantity.

“The trouble with water,” wrote Marq de Villiers, the author of Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource “is that they’re not making any more of it.” The NRTEE has already studied Canada’s wastewater systems as well as the health of the world’s oceans, and is now in the process of scoping out a new research program that will focus on key water issues for Canada related to the exploration and development of natural resources.

Like other natural resources, the world’s supply of fresh water is limited and finite. As the world gets bigger, hotter and more industrialized, we will need to find ways to conserve, protect and share it if we are to survive as a species. (more...)


Preserving the Earth’s complex heritage

If variety is the spice of life, then biodiversity is the web of life. Interdependence between the human species and ecosystems is at the basis of human survival. So closely is biodiversity intertwined with human needs, that it can be considered an element of basic national security and future global prosperity.

Yet, around the world, the number of species, the genetic variations within them, and the range of habitats are being affected by human activity. Overpopulation, deforestation, pollution – of the air, water and soil – along with global warming are exerting a cumulative effect on biodiversity. As species disappear, the world’s ecosystems are become less stable and more fragile. Living within and sustainably developing the biodiversity around us is central to human existence.

While, it is probably true that every project which the Round Table undertakes has some relevance to biodiversity, our experts have focused on the state of biodiversity in Canada, with an emphasis on governance, conservation and development of our natural heritage. (more...)


Linking sustainability to policy choices

“Governance is the process whereby societies or organizations make important decisions, determine whom they involve and how they render account.”
- Institute on Governance

  • Environmental issues such as water scarcity, food shortages and climate change summon governments to action – partly because citizens are insisting on it and partly because governments have a critical role to play in aligning society’s interests and capabilities to reflect positive change. The changing realities of these big, interpreting issues require our governments to consider new ways of making policies.
  • In Canada, effective and realistic environmental policies – such as achieving significant reductions in carbon emissions – can only succeed if they rely on strengthened environmental governance. In this way, environmental protection and economic prosperity are inextricably linked. This is the practice of sustainable development. In practice, this means that the protection of the environment becomes an integral component of all phases of our decision-making processes.
  • The NRTEE has a role to play to foster greater environmental governance on the part of our federal government. With the introduction of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act in 2007, it is obliged by law to review the government’s Climate Change Plan on an annual basis to 2012. We also conduct independent research to suggest ways to make environmental and economic concerns an intergrating aspect of the federal government’s decision-making processes. (more...)