Our research group studies environmental politics and governance with a focus on action to address the climate crisis and to drive transitions to sustainable energy. We are part of the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Urban Just Transitions

The Urban Just Transitions Cluster’s goal is to further our understanding of how urban just transitions are unfolding and how to accelerate the transition to zero carbon economies, societies, and energy systems without exacerbating existing inequalities. We take a community engaged scholarship approach that centres on relationship building and resourcing non-academic partners pursuing urban just transitions for their communities. Together we are trying to understand how to accelerate equitable transitions to cities that do not produce carbon pollution and enable people to live good lives. Co-leads: Laura Tozer and Matthew Hoffmann.

The UJT Cluster’s activities are organized around the following themes:

  1. Collaboratively envisioning and enacting just transitions to address the climate crisis
  2. Examining leverage points that could catalyze transitions to zero carbon economies, societies, and energy systems and address inequalities

Sustainable Energy Transitions

On-going research focuses on cities in North America and Europe that are striving toward carbon neutrality to understand what is planned for buildings and energy systems, how measures are being implemented, and whether these measures are leading to systemic change.

On-going research by lab members includes:

  • Deep and Inclusive Building Retrofits: How can we achieve low-carbon, resilient and inclusive building retrofits in Canada? Building retrofits can realize GHG reductions more quickly and are either cost-effective or net cost saving compared to other mitigation actions, but still have been underemphasized in Canadian response strategies and research.
  • What kinds of dynamics catalyze systemic change to achieve decarbonization
  • Local government planning and implementation of deep decarbonization

Living Cities Canada: Green for All

The Living Cities project is led by Laura Tozer, Christine Mettler (Green Communities Canada), and Jenn Grant (Green Infrastructure Ontario). The aim of this SSHRC-funded project is to create Living Cities – communities where green infrastructure, like trees and woodlots, rain gardens and bioswales, green roofs and walls, wetlands and parks, is equitable, abundant, and thriving.

The 100 Resilient Cities Initiative: A Natural Experiment in the Politics of Creating a Sustainable World

This SSHRC funded project is led by Matt Hoffmann, Chris Gore, Michele Betsill, and Laura Tozer. This project will examine the emergence, implementation, and wind down of the 100 Resilient Cities initiative in order to better understand and help enhance the potential for transnational initiatives and cities to catalyze transformation towards sustainability and a low-carbon future. Our goal is to provide a fulsome picture of the life cycle and impact of the 100 Resilient Cities initiative and in so doing generate academic insights into the nature of sustainability transformations and practical knowledge for urgently pursuing transformation in a time of climate crisis.

Nature-Based Solutions

Urban nature-based solutions are inspired and supported by nature and simultaneously provide environmental, social, and economic benefits. In cities, nature-based solutions such as green rooftops and community gardens can manage water to improve retention and reduce run-off, and increasing tree cover and green spaces can temper the heat island effect to lower temperatures.

On-going research by lab members includes:

  • How we can build urban nature-based solutions in ways that also advance social justice outcomes rather than exacerbating inequalities
  • The ways in which nature-based solutions are being pursued as a resiliency strategy in cities and the implications
  • The emergence of nature-based solutions as a lynchpin holding the climate and nature agendas together in transnational urban governance
  • Catalyzing sustainability pathways to integrate nature-based solutions into mainstream urban development