Climate Change Speaks Out and Talks Back!

Introduction complete e-Dialogue (pdf)
The e-Dialogues launched on Sept. 24-26, 2001, with a pilot e-dialogue on climate change. Over the three days, 5 nationally-recognized panelists discussed the relevance of climate change to Canada, expected impacts, vulnerabilities and risks, as well as response strategies and priorities.

We'd like to thank our moderator and panelists for their participation in this novel event, and also thank all of you who came in to observe and who participated in the audience forum.

The discussion took place over a 1.5-2 hour period each day. Panelist statements have been archived verbatim; however, given the software used was not synchronous, certain panelist statements have been reorganized to maintain the logical flow of the discussion.

The following documentation has been archived as part of the dialogue:

  • The complete dialogue, as a PDF document (342 KB)
  • A dialogue summary
  • Background readings that address climate change from different perspectives
  • The panelists, with their bios
Moderator complete e-Dialogue (pdf)

David Zussman, President,
Public Policy Forum

David Zussman is is President of the Public Policy Forum, an organization committed to bridging the gap between government, business, labour and the voluntary sector, and Professor of Public Policy and Management at the University of Ottawa, where he is a recognized authority on public service management and public policy and also teaches in the University's Executive MBA Program. Dr. Zussman has had a varied career in government, the private sector and academia. David Zussman graduated with his B.Sc. in Mathematics from McGill University in 1968, and obtained his M.Sc. in Educational Psychology from Florida State University in 1970. He successfully completed his Ph.D. in Social Psychology, at McGill in 1975.

During the early years of his career, he worked for the federal government, at the Treasury Board Secretariat, Energy, Mines and Resources, and the Department of the Secretary of State for External Affairs. In 1993, he was asked by the newly elected Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, to lead the transition for the federal Liberal government, a role he undertook again in 1997.

Dr. Zussman has taught at the University of Ottawa, the University of Victoria and Carleton University. Most notably, he held the position of Dean of the Faculty of Administration at the University of Ottawa from 1988-1992, and was subsequently Associate Dean, Graduate Programs, from 1995-1998


Stewart Cohen, Scientist, Adaptation and Impacts Research Group, Meteorological Service of Canada of Environment Canada, and Senior Associate, Sustainable Development Research Institute, University of British Columbia..

Stewart J. Cohen is a scientist with the Adaptation and Impacts Research Group, Meteorological Service of Canada of Environment Canada, and a Senior Associate with the Sustainable Development Research Institute (SDRI), University of British Columbia. He studied geography at McGill University, the University of Alberta, and the University of Illinois where he obtained a Ph.D. in 1981.

Dr. Cohen’s research is on the regional impacts of climate and climate change. Dr. Cohen has authored or co-authored nearly 50 publications, including case studies of several regions in central, western and northern Canada. From 1990-1997, Dr. Cohen was the director of the Mackenzie Basin Impact Study (MBIS), a six-year interdisciplinary study on the regional impacts of global warming scenarios in northwest Canada. He was editor and co-author of the MBIS Final Report, which was published by Environment Canada in 1997. He has also consulted with climate impacts research programs in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway and the United States, as well as with agencies of the United Nations where he was a Co-ordinating Lead Author of the IPCC Third Assessment Report chapter on North America (Working Group II), and a contributor to the UNEP Handbook on Methods for Climate Change Impact Assessment and Adaptation Strategies.

Ongoing activities include assessments of stakeholder responses in the Okanagan-Columbia Basin and participation in the Georgia Basin Futures Project, a study of regional sustainability led by SDRI. He is also on the editorial boards of Climatic Change, and Integrated Assessment (formerly Environmental Modelling and Assessment), and is serving as Science Director of the British Columbia node of the Canadian-Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network (C-CIARN BC). He also teaches a graduate course at UBC entitled “Climate Change in the 21st Century.”

Louise Comeau, Director, Sustainable Communities and Environmental Policy Department, Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Louise Comeau is the Director of the Sustainable Communities and Environmental Policy Department at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Louise has been with FCM since May 1998. Between 1990 and 1998 she directed climate change campaigns at Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club of Canada. Louise has extensive experience in all areas of domestic and international policy on climate change, including the science.

Prior to working on environmental issues, Louise worked almost eight years in marketing, public relations and organizational communications for the public and private sectors and one year as a legislative intern for Sheila Copps and Mike Harris.

At FCM, Louise's program responsibilities focus on initiatives aimed at increasing community sustainability. Programs include: the Partners for Climate Protection Program, Green Municipal Funds, Municipal Building Retrofit Program, Active Transportation, Community Energy Planning and Green Infrastructure.

The policy work focuses on the impact of federal legislation on communities. Current priorities are air quality, particularly smog, toxins, species at risk and waste minimization.

Danny Harvey, Professor, Dept. of Geography, University of Toronto.

Danny Harvey is Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto. He studied Geography at the University of British Columbia (B.Sc.) and University of Toronto (M.Sc. & Ph.D.), obtaining his Ph.D. in 1986.

Dr. Harvey pursues research in the areas of computer climate modelling as well as options to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases associated with energy use. His modeling work is focused on understanding past climatic changes and projection of future climatic change due to emissions of greenhouse gases, with a particular emphasis on coupled climate-carbon cycle models and the impacts of different future global energy scenarios.

He has published three dozen articles, served as lead author on IPCC Technical Report No.2 (An Introduction to Simple Climate Models Used in the IPCC Second Assessment Report), and has published two books: "Global Warming: The Hard Science", Prentice Hall, 2000 (a graduate-level textbook), and "Climate and Global Environmental Change", Prentice Hall, 2000 (an undergraduate-level textbook). He is also on the editorial board of the journal, "Climate Change".

From 1989 to 1995, Dr. Harvey served as co-chair of the City of Toronto's Special Advisory Committee on the Environment which was instrumental in setting up the City of Toronto's greenhouse gas emission reduction programme - the first city in the world to adopt a programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the local level.

Al Howatson, Principal Research Associate, Regulatory Policy Alternatives, Conference Board of Canada.

Al Howatson is a Principal Research Associate in the Regulatory Policy Alternatives program at The Conference Board of Canada. His professional experience over the past 15 years has concentrated in the economics, public policy, and business management aspects of climate change, environmental issues and forest products. Mr. Howatson has conducted and managed research studies in:

  • the use of models in the economic analysis of climate change options
  • the business management of "joint implementation" pilot projects
  • reforming public policies for sustainability
  • the utilization of cost/benefit and other decision support methodologie
  • environmental accounting
  • trade, competitiveness, and the environment

Mr. Howatson was actively involved in the 1998 formation of the Climate Change Economic Analysis Forum (CCEAF), a joint venture between The Conference Board of Canada and the Canadian Energy Research Institute. The Forum provided both a process and structure to analyze and improve understanding of the impacts of climate change policies, options, and targets.

He holds a Masters degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario and a B.Sc., Physics/Mathematics from the University of Victoria.

Recommended reading:

1. Toman, Michael A., ed. Climate Change Economics and Policy. Resources for the Future, Washington D.C., 2001.

2. Nordhaus, William, ed. Economics and Policy Issues in Climate Change. Resources for the Future, Washington D.C., 1998.

Patricia Roberts-Pichette, Former Director, Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN), and Executive Secretary, Canada's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program.

Patricia Roberts-Pichette, born and educated in New Zealand, received a Fulbright Travel Award to Duke University where she earned her Ph.D. in Ecology and Forestry. She then came to Canada where she taught Biology at the University of New Brunswick before being brought into Environment Canada to manage the secretariat for the Canadian activities of the UNESCO Program on Man and the Biosphere (MAB). In the position of Executive Secretary, she was instrumental in setting out the base position of the MAB Program in Canada, including its policy on biosphere reserves, which led to the creation of this country's first biosphere reserve (Mont-Saint-Hilaire). Downsizing of Environment Canada in 1979 meant it would no longer host the Canadian MAB secretariat. She therefore accepted a position first at the Canadian International Development Agency Multilateral Branch and then at FAO as the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR). In both of these positions she was involved in international agricultural research policy with a personal focus on sustainable production and genetic conservation.

On the completion of her assignment in TAC, Patricia returned to Americas Branch of CIDA from where she was seconded to State of the Environment Reporting Directorate as Director of Ecosystems Monitoring and Analysis. It was her responsibility to translate national recommendations into basic working methods and philosophy of a research and monitoring program that in 1994 became the Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN). As she sees EMAN as a practical expression of MAB ideas in a Canadian context, she has worked to ensure that biosphere reserves became part of EMAN. With the creation of the EMAN Coordinating Office in 1994, she became EMAN's senior scientific advisor. It was her initiative that led to Canadian biosphere reserves joining EMAN in 1996 with the idea that they serve as models for sustainable use and management of natural resources as well as centres of research and monitoring.

Upon her retirement in 1997, Patricia continued as secretary of the Biodiversity Science Board she had helped create and volunteered to be "recycled" as Executive Secretary for Canada/MAB. In recognition of her contributions, Environment Canada created the "Patricia Roberts-Pichette Award" to recognize people for their enthusiastic leadership and commitment to advancing ecological research and monitoring in Canada.

Summary complete e-Dialogue (pdf)

Royal Roads University, in partnership with the Public Policy Forum and the Policy Research Initiative, held its first e-dialogue on climate change, over three days in September 2001.

Moderated by Dr. David Zussman, the expert panel included:

  • Dr. Stewart Cohen, Environment Canada, Adaptation and Impacts Group, and Sustainable Development Research Institute, UBC;
  • Louise Comeau, Federation of Canadian Municipalities;
  • Dr. Danny Harvey, University of Toronto;
  • Al Howatson, Conference Board of Canada, and
  • Dr. Patricia Roberts-Pichette, retired government scientist and former head of EMAN.

The three days of the dialogue were organized around themes and strategic questions. The first day addressed the science, the second day, the vulnerabilities, and the third, response strategies. The entire dialogue may be viewed as a PDF document here.

Majority Points of Consensus
It is clear we need to develop a comprehensive, long-term (30-50 year) strategy for reducing our GHG emissions based on abatement and mitigation and vulnerabilities as top priorities, with an emphasis on energy efficiency gains, with a transition plan to renewables, natural gas, and minimum use of coal and oil. The strategic direction is to develop a set of responses that achieve environmental improvements in a range of areas while, at the same time, contributing to economic efficiency, innovation and productivity.
WHAT (Direct actions)
  1. a focus on shifting and diversifying energy sources
  2. investment in core infrastructure: more efficient water, waste, energy and transportation infrastructure
  3. model standards and codes for land use planning and urban design
  4. rewrite building codes (not just to require more insulation, but to facilitate use of solar energy for hot water heating for example)
  5. consumer incentives for green power and efficient/alternative technology vehicles
WHO (Government leadership)
    1. facilitate a national process to address the asymmetrical nature of climate change impacts
    2. initiate collaboratives for mutual learning on climate change so that researchers and local knowledge holders learn from each other through partnerships
    3. catalyze broad-based dialogues on the relative roles of public and private risk-bearing that involve regional/local governments, private and public insurance, and property owners


HOW (Policy directions)
  1. develop some fairly detailed international scenarios of the probable outcomes and implications for Canada, especially vis-à-vis U.S. actions and inactions
  2. determine the relative resources that should be devoted to adaptation versus mitigation
  3. develop principles for resolving the burden-sharing within Canada: how to share the costs and benefits of adaptation and mitigation
  4. use financial instruments: emissions trading (cap and trade system so that large emitters can begin to reduce emissions); a pollution tax, and/or transfer payments to cooperating provinces)
  5. make greater use of decision analysis; in particular, a structured process to elicit stakeholder values as a basis for formulating decision options. One approach is to have 'experts' input assumptions in an open forum. The other would be some pooled consensus of stakeholders determining input to the assumptions.
Direct actions that serve multiple purposes are needed, for example, that reduce GHGs as well as protect health, improve urban transit, and improve water quality, in other words, actions at multiple levels, with multiple tools and a range of financial instruments. It is evident that the external costs of our current energy system are not reflected in their price, although we have far less agreement on the magnitude of these externalities, but the lower bound estimate is sufficient to make the transition to renewables and energy efficiency much more competitive than at present.

In the words of Danny Harvey, "Let's just do it!"

Climate Change and Global Warming Canadian Links Dialogue (pdf)

Please note that this list is not meant to be exhaustive, but to serve as a starting point from which to research a variety of viewpoints.

Government Resources
International Governmental Resources  
NGO Resources  
Industry Resources  
Media / Journals  
References from e-Dialogue  
  • Jacobson, M.Z. and Masters, G.M. (2001) Exploiting wind versus coal. Science 293: 1438.
  • Torrie, R, Parfett R., and Steenhof, P. (2002) Kyoto and Beyond: The Low Emission Path to Innovation and Technology, David Suzuki Foundation (124 pages)

Royal Roads University
Science, Technology & Environment Division