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 Energy Transitions

Dr. Tozer’s research has focused 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. Urban areas are strategically important targets for energy and resilience transitions since they concentrate people and resources and present significant opportunities to implement low carbon actions. In cities, diverse actors such as citizens, NGOs, public agencies, and local governments are experimenting with innovative climate change responses. We try to understand how these efforts can catalyze systemic decarbonization, as opposed to approaches that slightly decrease emissions without tackling the drivers of carbon pollution.

On-going research by lab members includes:

  • Deep and Inclusive Building Retrofits: This research project expands our understanding of how to 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.
  • Which scaling up processes and dynamics at the intersection of policy, practice and technology can lead to systemic decarbonization in Canadian cities, while also enhancing resilience and social equity
  • Local government planning and implementation of deep decarbonization

Pathways to Living Cities

This SSHRC funded project is led by Laura Tozer, Christine Mettler (Green Communities Canada), and Jenn Grant (Green Infrastructure Ontario). The project connects academics, municipal partners, community environmental groups, and equity seeking groups across the country to elucidate pathways that Canadian municipalities can take to become Living Cities – communities where green infrastructure is abundant, thriving and equitable

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, Sara Hughes, 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