The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) is pleased to announce $1.8 million in new funding for British Columbia-led projects aimed at finding solutions to the environmental, social and economic challenges — and opportunities — brought about by climate change.
PICS is a collaboration of BC’s four-research intensive universities—the University of Victoria (UVic), University of British Columbia (UBC), Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC)—hosted and led by UVic.
PICS Executive Director Tom Pedersen says the institute’s collaborative nature sets it apart from other research bodies because it brings together top minds—from what can be competing organizations—on specialist climate change topics.
“The 27 new research projects we are announcing today are living proof of this collaboration, with the majority of the project teams involving inter-university researchers as well as experts from within government, the private sector, and other research bodies,” says Pedersen. “Such collective intellectual effort will help ensure BC has the sound research base it needs to develop innovative climate change policies, and to ensure its ongoing leadership in this crucial area.”
Project durations range from eight months to 2.5 years and come under one of the four PICS research themes: the low carbon emissions economy, sustainable communities, social mobilization, and resilient ecosystems. Research projects under a fifth theme – carbon management in BC forests – will be announced later this year.
“The impact from human-caused climate change will increasingly be felt across our environment, our economy and our way of life, from the food we will be able to grow in future through to our willingness as a society to wean ourselves off carbon and move to a renewable energy sector,” Pedersen adds. “Research needs to encompass all these aspects.”
For more information on all 27 projects, visit: www.pics.uvic.ca.
BACKGROUNDER: UBC PICS PROJECTS
UBC researchers will lead or participate in 14 of the 27 projects, which received $927,600 in support, more than half of the $1.8 million funding announced today.
Greenest City Conversations (GCC)
UBC contact: Prof. John Robinson, UBC Sustainability Initiative
GCC aims to create discussion and analyze public attitudes towards sustainability policies, and to assess the impacts of different modes of public engagement including digital media, scenario visualization, mobile applications, tabletop games and art performances.
Development of novel nanostructured photocatalysts for highly efficient solar reduction of carbon dioxide to clean energy fuels
UBC contact: Prof. David Wilkinson, Clean Energy Research Centre
This project will look at new catalysts for the conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) into clean energy fuels with the help of solar energy, a clean and renewable energy source.
A day in my carbon neutral life
UBC contact: Profs. William Rees and Penny Gurstein, School of Regional and Community Planning
This reality-TV style multimedia project – which will profile real families from different income, cultural and geographic backgrounds — will help to demystify the changes needed in how we live, work, play and move around, if B.C. is to become carbon neutral.
Measured visualizations as catalysts for mobilization
UBC contact: Prof. Ronald Kellet, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Researchers will work with Revelstoke community residents to model how their community might change over the next 30 years. The project will help cities throughout B.C. to plan for a more energy-efficient future, without compromising quality of life.
Accelerating GHG reductions in BC’s economy
UBC contact: Prof. Hadi Dowlatabadi, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability; Liu Institute for Global Issues
This project will assesses B.C.’s greenhouse gas reduction policies, including carbon taxes, technology subsidies for carbon efficient equipment and the carbon neutral government mandate.
From communities of interest to communities of practice
UBC contact: Prof. Maged Senbel, School of Community and Regional Planning
A team of UBC researchers has partnered with goBEYOND, a non-profit campus climate action initiative, to promote reductions in energy consumption in student residences on B.C. campuses using social media.
Climate and ecosystem dynamics on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands: a historical perspective on strategies for restoration, management, and population recovery
UBC contact: Prof. Jenny McCune, Dept of Botany
This project aims to maintain the B.C. Garry oak, which is experiencing declines from fire suppression, deer browsing, and climate change, along with related stressors such as invasive species.
Assessing the potential aquatic habitat value of streams responding to a changing climate
UBC contact: Prof. Brett Eaton, Dept. of Geography
This project will produce numerical models predicting the impacts of climate change on potential fish habitat in B.C. streams, based on forecast changes in stream flow and sediment supply.
Climate and the decline of yellow?cedar along the north coast of British Columbia
UBC contact: Prof. Lori Daniels, Dept. of Geography
This laboratory team is using tree-ring analysis to determine whether diminishing snowpacks and late-winter freeze events are driving the decline of yellow-cedar, the most economically-valuable wood in the Pacific Northwest.
The Alouette River basin – the developing urban fringe at the interface with protected landscapes in coastal British Columbia and consequences for ecosystem resilience
UBC contact: Prof. John Richardson, Dept. of Forest Sciences
This project will use long-term flow data from an urban and agricultural watershed to examine how changes in hydrology might affect water supplies to freshwater ecosystems downstream, and how different water uses might impact the fish and other species living in and alongside water.
Operationalizing resilience over the long-term: learning from ecosystem baselines
UBC contact: Prof. Sara Gergel, Dept. of Forest Sciences
Researchers will use historic (1930s) air photos to determine the original distribution of large Western red cedar populations, a declining resource. They will also track changes in timber supply, wildlife habitats and wood for cultural purposes.
Flogging a dead policy: estimating the environmental impact of the luxury vehicle surtax in BC
UBC contact: Prof. Sumeet Gulati, Land and Food Systems
This project will explore whether B.C.’s luxury vehicle surtax has steered consumers towards cheaper, smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Just transition in BC: a framework for dealing with the employment impacts of the shift to a low-carbon economy
UBC contact: Prof. Ken Carlaw, UBC Okanagan
Working with affected industries, this project will develop a framework for labour market transitions to a low-carbon economy.
Closing the loop: opportunities to reduce GHG emissions and create green jobs through zero waste policies
UBC contact: Prof. William Rees, School of Community and Regional Planning
This project will investigate the potential for green job creation and GHG reductions through attempts to “close the loop” on economic production involving energy and material flows.
Visit www.sustain.ubc.ca to learn how UBC is transforming into a living laboratory for research and action on global sustainability issues.