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Advancing low-carbon sustainable energy transitions in Canada

Advancing low-carbon sustainable energy transitions in Canada

Energy policy is central to the relationship between environmental sustainability and economic prosperity in Ontario and Canada. Professor Mark Winfield’s research on this subject began while he was the program director of the non-profit think-tank the Pembina Institute. When he joined York University in July 2007, his work further expanded to exploring low-carbon sustainable energy transitions in Canada.

Professor Winfield is Co-Chair of the Faculty’s Sustainable Energy Initiative and Coordinator of the joint Master of Environmental Studies/Juris Doctor program offered in conjunction with Osgoode Hall Law School. Along with  Blue-Green Province: The Environment and the Political Economy of Ontario (2012), he has published articles, book chapters, reports and working papers with his students on a wide range of environmental, economic, energy and climate change law and policy topics.

He is a founding member of several major sustainable energy-related research networks including the Ontario Network for Sustainable Energy Policy (ONSEP), the $5.2M NSERC Energy Storage Technology (NEST) Network with Professor Bala Venkatesh (Ryerson University), the Community Energy Knowledge-Action Partnership (CEKAP) with Professor Kirby Calvert (Guelph); the Joint Climate Change Transportation Research Partnership (JCCTRP) with Professor Mark Purdon (UQAM), and the Energy Modelling Initiative (Professors Normand Mousseau (Montreal) and Madeleine McPherson (UVIC)). He recently completed a major study on governance models for energy efficiency strategies with the support of the George Cedric Metcalf Foundation.

Professor Winfield is currently working on two book projects – an edited volume on sustainable energy transition in Canada (Prof. Stephen Hill, (Trent co-editor), as well as a follow-up monograph to Blue-Green Province. He is also contributing to an edited volume, led by FES Adjunct Professor Bruce Campbell, on regulatory capture and future models for public goods regulation.

In addition to his energy work, FES postdoc Calvin Lakhan and Prof. Winfield have created a Waste Wiki online data hub for waste research. The site is home to more than 6,000 studies on waste and provides users with the ability to access and interface with data from national stewardship programs for a range of residential and commercial waste streams. Notably, it is the largest online reference library in Canada to concentrate solely on studies devoted to the subject of waste and recycling.

Professor Winfield has also been involved in a number of knowledge mobilization (KMb) activities related to sustainable energy research. Through SEI, he has played a central role in organizing more than 40 sustainable energy-related seminars and webinars. The SEI Seminar Series has featured speakers of national and international status, and drawn high profile audiences from the public and private sectors, professions, media, academic community and public. He has also initiated further KMb work, including the publication of a blog as well as production of presentations and videos covering a variety of federal, provincial and municipal issues relating to climate change and the environment. He writes regularly for The Conversation and Policy Options.

Drawing on his experiences as an expert witness at the Walkerton Inquiry, as well as his work on the Lac-Megantic railway disaster, Professor Winfield has worked with FES Adjunct Professor Bruce Campbell and Sociology Distinguished Research Professor Pat Armstrong to call for formal public inquiries into the impact of COVID-19 on the long-term care sector, and federal government’s handling of the pandemic.

Professor Winfield has acted as advisor to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario and federal Commissioner for Environment and Development. He is a member of the Conseil d’administration (Board of Directors) of Transitions Energetique Quebec, a Crown corporation established in 2017 to implement a low-carbon energy transition strategy for Quebec. He will be a York-Massey Visitor at the University of Toronto’s Massey College in 2020-21.