Developing effective solutions to tackle human-induced climate change relies on interdisciplinary approaches and collaboration between researchers and climate solution decision-makers. PICS unites experts from British Columbia’s four research universities with government, businesses and community leaders to generate evidence-based, usable and durable solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Our climate solutions research supports BC’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and contributes to resiliency across industry, business and multi-level government policies.

We are pioneering collaborative, user-engaged research that convenes key partners to co-design, co-develop and co-deliver climate solutions for BC, Canada and potentially the world. For PICS, this means working together with the right complement of partners to effectively engage researchers, policymakers and decision-makers to solve climate challenges and realize opportunities in BC and beyond. Strategic, targeted engagement and communication are key components of our approach.

Collaborative Research Program 

The PICS collaborative model relies on three kinds of contributing partners:

Solution Partners bring practical, domain knowledge and experience. They play a key role in identifying and framing the problem, developing solutions and supporting the application of results, helping to translate theory to action. Solution Partners may be based in private sector, governmental or non-governmental organizations.

Research Partners bring theoretical knowledge and experience, research skills and academic excellence to the project to help generate and transform novel ideas to produce new knowledge and social, technical and institutional innovations.

- The PICS Partner is a knowledge broker that supports relationships and networks; provides training and financial support. We are a catalyst for action, engagement and communication to help realize and track intended outcomes and impacts.

Visit the PICS website to learn more about our Collaborative Research Program.

Current Opportunity Projects led by SFU Researchers

  • Drought and deluge: informed water allocation decision making in a world of intensifying hydrologic extremes. Project page

Diana Allen (PI), Professor, Department of Earth Sciences. Solution Seeker: FLNRORD, Pacific Salmon Foundation

Funding period: April 2022 – March 2025

Problem/Context: Climate change is resulting in shifts in hydrologic regimes that are increasingly accompanied by intensified extremes, including heavy rain events and prolonged drought periods. But our understanding of how these climate extremes will alter the amount and timing of recharge to aquifers and the subsequent release of that water to streams as baseflow, which is needed to sustain environmental flows during the summer low-flow period, is lacking. This information is critical for supporting decisions related to sustainable watershed/aquifer management and authorizations under the Water Sustainability Act.

Solution:  A strategy for building resilience to the impacts of climate extremes on water resources that can be implemented in water allocation decision making. Simon Fraser University hydrologists have partnered with FLNRORD staff in the South Coast Region to 1) co-investigate the impacts of hydrologic extremes in the urban-rural-wildland fringe of adjacent mountain-to-valley bottom watersheds in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, and 2) co-develop a series of decision-support tools and inform policy surrounding water management that accounts for climate extremes.

  • Turning the Tide: Exploring Clean Marine Propulsion in Coastal Indigenous Communities. Project page

Cliff Atleo (PI), Assistant Professor, School of Environmental Resource Management, Faculty of Environment. Partners: UVic. Solution seekers: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Skidegate Band Council.  Funding period: January 2022 – January 2024.

Problem/Context: Canada has committed to being a net-zero emitter by 2050 and recently announced that all new cars and light-duty trucks will be zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035, yet comparatively little research has been conducted on the electrification of marine vessels. And while there are some encouraging examples in Canada (BC Ferries and MV Alutasi in Nova Scotia), much of this work is being done internationally, and most of it focusing on the engineering aspects of marine electrification.

Solution: This project brings together an interdisciplinary team of researchers from SFU and UVic, and solution seekers – the Skidagate Band Council on Haida Gwaii and Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council on Vancouver Island – to study the challenges and opportunities of deploying low – and/or zero-carbon emitting marine vessels in coastal BC. The primary goals of the project are to aid First Nation communities in their net-zero and marine electrification planning and develop policy recommendations for federal and provincial governments to support these efforts.

Taco Niet (PI), Assistant Professor, School of Sustainable Energy Engineering. Solution Seekers: Aeolis Wind Power Corporation and Renewable Hydrogen Canada Corporation (Aeolis/RH2C), BC Ministry of Energy, Mines. Reviewer: BC Hydro

Funding period: March 1, 2022 – February 28, 2025

Problem/Context: The government of BC has established short-term emission reduction objectives for 2030 and 2040 of 40% and 60% below 2007 levels with a long term goal of 80% reduction by 2050. However, the gross GHGs emissions in BC have been increasing since 2015. Much of the planned reduction in emissions is anticipated to come from electrification, but this poses a significant challenge as only 18% of energy is currently supplied as electricity. To meet these reduction targets using electrification will require a two to four-fold increase in the supply of electricity in a very short time frame.

Solution: In collaboration with our solution seekers Aeolis Wind Power Corporation and Renewable Hydrogen Canada Corporation (Aeolis/RH2C), this project will identify technological pathways to meet BC’s energy decarbonization targets through electrification and utilization of alternate energy carriers while considering the water, food and land-use implications of expanding electricity supply in BC. Both solution seekers are eager to evaluate technical solutions that allow BC’s GHGs reduction targets to be met, the scale and ROI of potential market solutions for various energy carriers. BC Hydro is participating in this work as a project reviewer.

  • Infusing Climate Education into the BC Curriculum

David Zandvliet (PI), Professor, Faculty of Education. Partner: UBC.  Solution Seekers: BC Ministry of Education, Climate Action Secretariat, Environmental Educators Provincial Specialist Association (EEPSA) of the BCTF and the Classrooms to Communities (C2C) Network.

Funding Period: January 2022 to December 2024

Short Description: With this proposal, we envision research to update the BC Ministry of Education framework document: Environmental Learning and Experience: An Interdisciplinary Guide for Teachers, and to richly describe both the promise and practice of Climate Change Solutions and Place-based Education in BC through a three year action research project. Fundamental to this will be to imbed ideas and actions related to Climate Education and Remediation into the K-12 School Curriculum. The handbook would explicitly engage with the fact that place-based education (PBE) is now an expectation of the Ministry of Education, while acknowledging that First Nations Principles of Learning and processes linked to the Core Competencies (eg. Social Responsibility) would be logical starting places for augmenting the current focus.

Mark Jaccard (Co-PI), Professor, Faculty of Environment and Elicia Maine, (Co-PI), Professor, Beedie School of Business. Solution Seeker: Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre

Funding Period: January, 2021 - January 2024

Industrial deep decarbonization is needed for Canada to achieve a net-zero emissions target by 2050.

This will require inducing technological changes which transition existing emissions-intensive processes to zero-emission. However, policies introduced by Canadian federal and provincial governments which require GHG emission reductions in Emissions-Intensive and Trade-Exposed (EITE) industries may induce carbon leakage, a phenomenon of incentivizing emissions-intensive processes to be outsourced to jurisdictions which do not implement climate policies.

This project will evaluate government policy and innovation strategies designed to transition emissions-intensive technologies to net-zero, while providing solutions to mitigate the risks of carbon leakage and create future economic opportunities for BC and Canada. 

  • Integration of Mobile Thermal Storage in City of Surrey’s District Energy Network. Project page

Majid Bahrami (PI), Professor, Faculty of Applied Sciences. Solution seeker: City of Surrey

Funding Period: September 2019 - August 2022. 

District energy networks can play a central role in reducing building-related emissions due to their high efficiency and the flexibility they offer for integrating energy from renewable sources. The building sector is a major contributor to GHG emissions in Canada and worldwide. In collaboration with the City of Surrey and Canmet ENERGY, this project aims to develop a novel modular (scalable) thermochemical-based mobile thermal energy storage (M-TES). The proposed system will be capable of capturing waste heat from distributed, non-connected sources and moving this heat to connect into a district energy system. The heat stored in the M-TES can be used for load shaping and to offset requirements for generating peak power from non-renewable sources. The resulting benefits from this project include a reduced reliance on non-renewable fuels for peak loads, reduced carbon emissions and lower operating costs. The project will serve as an example for sustainable energy initiatives in other municipalities in BC and beyond. 

  • Designing solutions to the hidden impacts of climate change on Canada’s undersea forests.  Project page

Anne Salomon (PI), Professor Faculty of Environment

Solution seekers:Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance that encompasses all four First Nations of BC’s central coast (Heiltsuk Nation, Kitasoo/ Xai’ xais Nation, Nuxalk Nation and the Wuikinuxv Nation)

Duration: September 2019 - August 2022.

In 2015 First Nations communities on central BC’s coast observed an expansive outbreak of an encrusting bryozoan. This outbreak occurred in correlation with extreme ocean temperature anomalies (“warm blob”) in the northeast Pacific Ocean. Giant kelps were heavily encrusted by the bryozoan, causing them to sink to the seafloor where they rapidly disintegrated. This project—in partnership with the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance that encompasses all four First Nations of BC’s central coast (Heiltsuk Nation, Kitasoo/ Xai’ xais Nation, Nuxalk Nation and the Wuikinuxv Nation)—will determine whether adaptive management of traditional community-based kelp harvest and herring spawn-on-kelp fisheries can minimize the negative impact of temperature-induced bryozoan outbreaks. This project aims to enhance the resilience of both kelp forest ecosystems and coastal communities to climate change.