Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

31 Jul 2023

Looking ahead to 2050

Posted by Michael Keating

What might our world look like in 2050? Do we have a chance to avert climate disaster? A group of Canadian academics is writing about how we might do it. The Environmental Governance Lab at University of Toronto is publishing a series of “We Did It!?” stories from the perspective of writers in the year 2050. The lab is hosted by the U of T Department of Political Science and the School of the Environment and includes writers, mainly from Canadian universities. The focus is on the political choices and social dynamics that could bring about a Net Zero Canada by 2050. The writers assume that after a slow start there will be an all-out push to renewable energy in the coming decade. They predict economic reforms aimed at more equitable income distribution, and Energy Aid policies. They see the country moving to a circular economy where “wastes” are recycled and reused to a much greater extent. It’s not all roses. They say that the global average temperature may be held to under a 2-degree warming and we will avoid utter catastrophe, but will live in a far more uncertain, dangerous, and precarious world than we had hoped. The new normal includes nearly constant deadly heat waves and flooding.

This is a welcome attempt to look at how the world might change enough to stave off a climate collapse. Too much of the public dialogue has been about technical fixes and funding of big companies. We need more broad looks at how social attitudes could shift from high consumption and pollution that is driving climate change to lifestyles that fit within the planetary boundaries we keep ignoring.

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