Research examines real actions in response to climate emergencies

New Frontiers in Research Fund supports the research of Dr. Xander Wang
| Research
A smartly dressed man in a grey suit stands in front of a river with distant buildings in the background
Dr. Xiuquan (Xander) Wang

The Government of Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) 2020 Exploration competition recently awarded support to 117 research projects across Canada. Among the list is a project led by Dr. Xiuquan (Xander) Wang, an associate professor in UPEI’s School of Climate Change and Adaptation. Dr. Wang’s project brings together systematic modelling and decision-making frameworks to turn declarations of climate emergencies into real actions. The NFRF has awarded the project $250,000.

“Hundreds of governments around the world have declared states of emergency in the last few years in response to the rapidly changing climate,” said Dr. Wang. “These declarations are rarely accompanied by tangible action, compared to declarations of public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave us such reactions as lockdowns and masking protocols.”

Dr. Wang attributes the inaction towards climate emergencies to a lack of awareness about the opportunities and challenges of climate change at the local level. He identifies a lack of sustainable technologies to adapt to the changes as well as a lack of effective policies and society engagement to implement these technologies as other reasons preventing real actions.

Dr. Wang will bring together an interdisciplinary team of researchers in the areas of climate-change modelling, big data analytics, environmental economics, sustainability, and public policy to develop a systematic modelling and analysis framework for identifying and promoting immediate and effective climate actions at local scales. Compared to existing frameworks or methodologies, which are either focused on high-level policy analysis or large-scale impact assessment, this framework will be targeted for individual economic sectors within regional and local communities, where real and immediate actions are needed.

“UPEI has been a leader in climate change research both regionally and across the country for several years,” said Dr. Katherine Gottschall-Pass, interim vice-president academic and research at UPEI. “Through this project, Dr. Wang will draw on the resources and deep connections his team has on the Island to make a real difference in how we respond to climate change. I want to congratulate him on this well-deserved award.”

Dr. Wang will use Prince Edward Island as a case study to develop the proposed framework. Based on the research team’s already-established climate monitoring networks and collaborative partnerships with local policy makers and stakeholders, they will carry out various experiments to test and improve the proposed framework. If successful, Dr. Wang hopes to scale up this framework to other provinces and jurisdictions across Canada to support a nation-wide transition from climate emergency declarations to real actions.

The New Frontiers of Research Fund was launched in late 2018 to mobilize world-leading interdisciplinary, international, high-risk, high-reward, and transformative Canadian-led research. It is under the strategic direction of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee and is managed as a tri-agency program by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), on behalf of Canada’s three research granting agencies—the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and SSHRC. The NFRF is under the strategic direction of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee and is managed as a tri-agency program by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), on behalf of Canada’s three research granting agencies—the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and SSHRC.

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