Deep decarbonization and sustainability transitions

Light rail transit is an example of deep decarbonization and sustainability transitions.

Transitions to sustainability are multi-faceted phenomena, requiring expertise in a range of science, social science and humanities disciplines. Our members are creating the technological advances that are necessary to wean society off of fossil fuels; they are exploring the urban forms and building technologies that contribute to more sustainable futures, and they are applying novel techniques to explore the many opportunities and obstacles along pathways to those futures.

Spanning many disciplines, mitigation research focuses on climate policies and governance, communication, energy efficiency and emissions-reducing technologies and approaches, engineered negative emissions solutions such as carbon capture, utilization and storage, and nature-based solutions that will support the global transition towards a low-carbon society. Sustainability transitions research explores the many intersections among water, food, climate, and energy issues, while also uncovering the policies, behaviours, discourse, socio-political dynamics, and markets that may enable or inhibit change.

Current research projects

The Can-Peat project will quantify the potential of peatland management in Canada to contribute to climate change mitigation as a nature-based solution. This goal will be achieved by creating an open access database of peatland distribution, condition and vulnerability, innovative modelling response to disturbance, and developing decision-support tools for climate friendly management. 

The project supports Canadian municipalities to monitor, measure and achieve their greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation goals. The aim is to ensure emissions reduction projects, policies and programs are aligned with Canada's national reduction commitments.

The research will develop a simple, dynamic carbon and GHG scorecard that will complement existing green building standards by tracking the state and trajectory of residential developments. The scorecard’s potential to induce developer behavioral change by incentivizing green infrastructure investments through social norms and status-seeking behaviour will be tested.

The project will develop a decision-support framework for direct air capture (DAC) that acknowledges the scale of the enterprise, the immersive nature of the system with other systems, and the substantial amount of uncertainty surrounding its deployment. We use a dynamic adaptive policy pathways approach, a method developed to address decision making under deep uncertainty, to generate a set of policy actions and contingency plans to navigate the development and deployment of DAC in Canada.

The project aims to improve methane emission monitoring at landfills by combining state-of-the-art soil measurements with a novel application of hyperspectral infrared imaging. The team will also develop methods to reduce emissions using methane-consuming microbes from landfill cover soils. This project targets the large, poorly quantified emissions from Canadian landfills and provides information, tools, and methods for practical solutions.

Featured member research

Remote video URL

Destination net-zero: What does the International Energy Agency 2050 roadmap mean for the tourism future?

Learn more about Climate Institute member Dan Scott's research on sustainable tourism. 

Further Reading: Scott, D. & Gössling, S. (2022). Destination net-zero: what does the international energy agency roadmap mean for tourism? Journal of Sustainable Tourism. Link:

Research groups and labs

Wind turbine.