Feb. 9, 2022

Researcher aims to optimize Canada’s climate policy network

Dr. Fenner Stewart is working on a multistage project to connect actors within climate change network, assist stakeholders in GHG reporting

Since Dr. Fenner Stewart, PhD, joined the Faculty of Law almost a decade ago, his research has focused on the law’s role in the governance of natural resources and the environment. He has published many articles and book chapters and has been cited by appellant courts in both Canada and the United States, including being cited five times by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2019. In this landmark judgement, his arguments assisted the Court to acknowledge the constitutionality of champing Alberta’s regulatory efforts to protect the environment. Since arriving at the school, he has also won 14 awards, fellowships, and grants for his teaching, research, and writing.   

In his most recent project, Dr. Stewart is the principal investigator of a multistage project, which aims to optimize Canada’s climate policy network. The first phase of this project was a collaboration between the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia. It was largely funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and consisted of a conference and workshop of climate experts. These experts, which included Dr. Margot Hurlbert (Canada Research Chair in Climate Change, Energy and Sustainability Policy from the University of Regina) and Dr. John Borrows (Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law from the University of Victoria), worked together to explore how to better connect the layers of actors within Canadian climate policy network. The experts have decided to publish their thought in an open-source book. Dr. Stewart and Dr. Janis Sarra (Principal Co-Investigator, Canada Climate Law Initiative and Professor from University of British Columbia) will edit the collected work. The target date for publication is January 1, 2023.  

Using the prospective gained from phase one of the project, Dr. Hurlbert, Dr. Sarra, and Dr. Stewart are presently putting together a team to build an online platform to assist regulators, policymakers, academics, and other stakeholders better appreciate the performance of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting and pricing programs in Western Canada. Participants from government, industry, and other impacted parties will submit written replies to a series of steering questions.  

“We want to take a wide range of viewpoints on reporting and pricing programs in Western Canada and create a depository for others to learn more about the effective strategies for the evolution of carbon pricing regulation. It will offer a snapshot of what the regulatory environment looks like at a particular moment in time. This snapshot will be unquestionably useful for others,” adds Stewart. 

The collection of submissions will be open-source database, providing first-hand accounts that “will be invaluable for future policy development.” Stewart continues, “Most, who think deeply about regulation today, echo a similar message: government must diligently monitor their regulated spaces for signs of failure, then respond quickly when change is needed. I am excited about this new project. I am confident that it will help climate regulators in their important work.”