News Release

CCA Appoints Expert Panel on Canada’s Carbon Sink Potential

Naturally occurring carbon sinks absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and could play an important role in helping Canada meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets under the 2015 Paris Agreement. At the request of Environment and Climate Change Canada and six other federal departments and agencies, the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) has formed an Expert Panel to examine the potential for enhancing carbon storage in natural systems such as plants, soils, and aquatic and marine environments to support climate change mitigation in Canada. Glen MacDonald, FRSC, Distinguished Professor in the departments of Geography and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA, will serve as Chair of the Expert Panel.

“We know that ecological carbon sinks such as forests and wetlands are vital to maintaining Earth’s carbon balance, but these are complex environmental systems that both absorb and release greenhouse gases depending on many factors,” said Professor MacDonald. “I look forward to working with my fellow panel members to determine what role these sinks could play in helping Canada meet its climate change commitments.”

As Chair, Professor MacDonald will lead a multidisciplinary group with expertise in carbon cycle science, earth sciences, climate and carbon modelling, geography, natural resource management, land-use planning, economics, and public policy. The Panel will answer the following question:

What is the potential for nature-based solutions to help meet Canada’s GHG emission reduction goals by enhancing carbon sequestration and storage, and reducing emissions, in managed and unmanaged areas (e.g., wetlands, agricultural and forest systems, harvested wood, and as blue (marine) carbon), and taking into account the major non-CO2 climate impacts that can be reliably estimated (e.g., non-CO2 GHG emissions, albedo, and aerosols)?

“This is a crucial question for Canada’s future and I’m delighted that this impressive group of experts led by Professor MacDonald have agreed to answer it,” said Eric M. Meslin, PhD, FRSC, FCAHS, President and CEO of the CCA. 

The CCA was asked by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), and co-sponsors Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forestry Service; National Research Council Canada; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Canada Wildlife Service; and Infrastructure Canada, to address the question. More information can be found here.

The Expert Panel on Canada’s Carbon Sink Potential:

Glen MacDonald (Chair), FRSC, Distinguished Professor, Departments of Geography and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA

Vic Adamowicz, FRSC, Vice Dean and Professor, Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Alberta

Melissa Arcand, Assistant Professor, Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan

Xavier Cavard, Professor, Forest Research Institute, University of Québec in Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT), Chair in Forest Carbon Management, UQAT and the Ministry of Forests, Fauna and Parks of Québec

Jing Ming Chen, FRSC, Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Gail L. Chmura, Professor, Department of Geography, McGill University

Valérie Courtois, Director, Indigenous Leadership Initiative

Margot Hurlbert, Canada Research Chair, Climate Change, Energy and Sustainability Policy; Professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Regina

Karen E. Kohfeld, Professor, School of Resource and Environmental Management, School of Environmental Science, Simon Fraser University

David Olefeldt, Associate Professor, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Science, University of Alberta

Yves Prairie, Full Professor, Université du Québec à Montréal; UNESCO Chair in Global Environmental Change

Michael Ter-Mikaelian, Research Scientist, Ontario Forest Research Institute, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Claudia Wagner-Riddle, Professor, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph

Kirsten Zickfeld, Professor, Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University

Susan Ziegler, Professor, Department of Earth Science, Memorial University of Newfoundland