U of T Scarborough professor emphasizes the importance of equity in Canada’s net-zero transition

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Canada's net-zero transition should place equity at the forefront: U of T Scarborough professor
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“In a time of immense social, economic, and political change, the ongoing development of clean energy alternatives is becoming a critical aspect of the transition to a sustainable future. Patricia Romero-Lankao has been at the forefront of this movement, leading efforts to address equity as it relates to clean energy transitions.

On Thursday, the LA100 Equity Strategies initiative published its final report on how Los Angeles’s clean energy future can take place in an equitable manner, an initiative that Romero-Lankao led. At the same time, she was named a Canada Excellence Research Chair in Sustainability Transitions by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), bringing her expertise to Canada’s net-zero carbon future with $8 million in research funding.

Championing Equity in Clean Energy

Romero-Lankao acknowledges that the shift so far towards clean energy has largely benefited wealthier communities, leaving lower-income households behind. As cities around the world seek to phase out fossil fuels, the most disadvantaged residents are at risk of being further marginalized by the clean tech movement. In Los Angeles alone, where the entire city aims to be powered by clean electricity by 2035, more than 16 per cent of the population live below the poverty line, struggling to afford necessary amenities such as air conditioning.

The findings presented in the LA100 Equity Strategies report are rooted in community feedback and lived experiences shared by the residents. Romero-Lankao has worked tirelessly with community organizers to integrate their perspectives and understand how past policies and programs have failed them. Through this lens, equity in energy transitions means ensuring that all communities benefit from clean energy initiatives, without bearing the negative environmental and economic impacts.

Embracing Change and Empowering Communities

Through her research, Romero-Lankao has designed measures to expand marginalized communities’ access to clean energy, energy-efficient housing, and affordable electric transit. Her work, including a framework outlined in a Nature Energy paper, aims to create a space for community dialogue while addressing equity issues in large-scale green energy projects. She emphasizes the need for a shift in power dynamics, highlighting the importance of different decision-making processes in partnership with communities.

Looking Ahead

In the next chapter of her journey, Romero-Lankao aspires to bring marginalized communities to the forefront of Canada’s net zero carbon transitions. She plans to create a hub for research, teaching, and community engagement to ensure that knowledge production and mobilization are centered around inclusivity and accessibility.

The ongoing pursuit of equity in clean energy transitions is a testament to the dedication and vision of Patricia Romero-Lankao. Her work not only highlights the importance of ensuring a just and equitable transition to clean energy but also serves as a reminder of the critical role that community voices play in shaping our sustainable future.”



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