James Meadowcroft – Reconciling two solitudes

OTTAWA — The work of James Meadowcroft, Theme D leader, was recently featured on the Carleton University Research website. The article has been reprinted with the permission of Carleton University.
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James Meadowcroft – Reconciling two solitudes – Carleton professor brings together government and environment

By Laura Cummings
Dr. James Meadowcroft, the Canada Research Chair in Governance for Sustainable Development, is bringing together two decidedly different areas – government and nature – in order to promote more sustainable ways of living.

A Carleton University professor in the departments of Political Science and Public Policy and Administration, Meadowcroft explores how governments can reform policies and practices themselves, while also encouraging the public to live in more sustainable ways.

“There must be urgent action to reduce our effect on the global environment,” he said in an interview earlier this year. “Individuals play a role in this process but the government can affect more change with help of the proper policy.”

By exploring how other industrialized countries respond to the sustainable agenda, Meadowcroft can draw on their experiences and improve policy and decision-making for Canada’s sustainable development.
His research looks at how both environmental and economic concerns can be integrated into federal decisions. Meadowcroft also investigates how citizens can work towards sustainability by improving production and consumption methods.

Another area of his studies examines “green” government operations and ways in which technology can be innovated minimize environmental concerns.

“In the rich industrialized countries, the key challenge is to radically reduce the burden our societies impose upon the global environment,” he said. “To avoid catastrophic damage to ecological integrity – including the global climate system – we must change the way we do things, particularly in the major economic sectors of energy, construction, manufacturing, transport, and agriculture.”

Canada has made some steps forward to address issues like climate change, Meadowcroft said, but there is still work to be done. New energy technologies and a renovation of current systems of consumption are necessary to make major environmental changes, he added.

“Environmental issues have arrived, in terms of being part of public debate.”