Research

My current research starts from the assumption that major transformation of our energy systems is necessary to mitigate climate change, and this transformation will have a profound impact on the sustainability of our societies (see “Climate Deadlocks” for a sketch of this argument).  The politics of energy system transformation thus provide a vital focal point for contemporary environmental and social justice movements.  My current work seeks to clarify this political terrain and provide resources to those who are seeking to negotiate it.

Some examples of this work specific to shale gas development in British Columbia are “A Dilemma of Abundance” [co-authored with Ellie Stephenson], “Greenwashing Gas” [co-authored with E. Stephenson and A. Doukas], and “BC Political Economy and the Challenge of Shale Gas” [co-authored with Myles Carroll and Ellie Stephenson]. See publications page for full citations.

The most recent form this has taken is a project funded by Carbon Management Canada that has examined public resistance to new energy infrastructure, such as run of river hydroelectricity and shale gas in British Columbia. Co-investigators are examining resistance to wind in Ontario, large-scale storage hydroelectricity in Labrador, and carbon capture and storage in Alberta. In all cases we are seeking to understand the sources of resistance, and to explore how concerns raised might be engaged to render energy system development both sustainable and socially resilient.

This project has been pursued in collaboration with Pembina Institute and Fort Nelson First Nation, and has benefited from input from several other NGOs, First Nations, government agencies, and local communities. I am always open to working in partnership on research projects that emerge from communities or organizations, as long as they are consistent with my general focus. I also seek to make the results of my research as widely available as possible.  Some recent examples of popular publications resulting from my research include co-authored op-eds in the Vancouver Sun (BC can have a boom without the bust) and Victoria Times-Colonist (More data needed in natural gas debate). See also a summary of these arguments and mention of our research here.

Past research:

Although the overarching questions that drive my research are consistent, the precise focus of the research has varied. Major past projects include the Clayoquot Project, a SSHRC-funded grant on “Local/Global Environmental Governance,” and First Nations Housing Design. See publications page for relevant articles.

photo credit: Mathew Murray
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