Our research

What is the purpose of the Positive Energy research?

Positive Energy aims to provide industry, government, regulators, NGOs and communities with concrete, practical methods for reaching social acceptance and support for energy development. To this end, we are taking an active approach to research – we involve stakeholders in research design and ensure that they regularly see the results their contributions are helping to achieve. Our discussion papers, policy briefs and research findings will be posted here, and will inform discussions between participants at an ongoing series of workshops and panels.

Canada’s Energy Future in an Age of Climate Change

Current research interrogates political polarization around energy issues in Canada–its causes, severity, and consequences. The team has been busy reviewing the literature, preparing fieldwork, planning events, and building new collaborations. The research has proceeded with the following stages (reverse chronological order):

Fall 2018 - Spring 2019: Canada’s Energy Future in an Age of Climate Change: How Partisanship, Polarization and Parochialism are Eroding Public Confidence, unpacks the core challenges and opportunities when it comes to building confidence in public authorities making decisions about Canada’s energy future in an age of climate change. These fundamental questions form the agenda for Positive Energy’s next three-year phase of research and engagement.

Canada’s Energy Future in an Age of Climate Change: How Partisanship, Polarization and Parochialism are Eroding Public Confidence by Mike Cleland and Monica Gattinger, with Rafael Aguirre and Marisa Beck

The Role of Public Authorities in Energy Decision-Making

Positive Energy has a research stream on the role of public authorities – policymakers, regulators, Indigenous authorities and municipalities – in energy decision-making. The research has proceeded with the following stages (reverse chronological order):

Fall 2017 - Spring 2018: Final synthesis. Each of the discussion papers is being revised in light of the workshops to include concrete recommendations to strengthen public confidence in energy decision-making. A final synthesis paper will ‘roll up’ all of the findings from the discussion papers and include the full suite of recommendations to reform energy decision-making in Canada.

Durable Balance: Informed Reform of Energy Decision-Making in Canada by Mike Cleland and Monica Gattinger, with Rafael Aguirre and Marisa Beck

Spring-Fall 2017: Convening Leaders on Key Stresses in the Energy Decision-Making System. Positive Energy convened  workshops with energy leaders from business, government, Indigenous communities, municipalities, ENGOs and academia on each of three main stresses identified in System Under Stress. At each workshop, a discussion paper was authored by a member of the Positive Energy Research Team.

How to Decide – Engagement: Information and Capacity by Dr. Louis Simard

The Policy-Regulatory Nexus in Canada's Energy Decision-Making: From Best Practices to Next Practices, by Dr. Stephen Bird

Who Decides? Balancing and Bridging Local, Indigenous and Broader Societal Interests in Canadian Energy Decision-Making, by Dr. Stewart Fast

Fall 2016-Winter 2017: Mapping the Energy Decision-Making System and releasing the report below.

System Under Stress: Energy Decision-Making in Canada and the Need for Informed Reform by Mike Cleland and Monica Gattinger

Spring 2016: Planning Phase. The research began with a planning workshop for energy leaders in June 2016 at which the discussion paper below was released.

Public Authorities and Energy Decision Processes: Building Public Confidence by Mike Cleland

The Role of Local Communities in Energy Project Decision-Making

Positive Energy partnered with the Canada West Foundation to undertake a comprehensive research study on the role of local communities in energy decision-making. The research proceeded in three stages (reverse chronological order):

Spring 2016 - Fall 2016: The research team undertook detailed deep-dive case studies into six communities across the country that experienced energy project decision-making processes for various kinds of energy projects. The research findings were published in the major report below.

A Matter of Trust: The role of communities in energy decision-making by Michael Cleland, with Stephen Bird, Stewart Fast, Laura Nourallah, Shafak Sajid and Louis Simard. 

Separate reports were prepared for each case study:

Case Study: Eckville and Rimbey, Alberta

Case Study: Kent County and Elsipogtog Nation, New Brunswick

Case Study: Kitimat and Haisla Nation, British Columbia

Case Study: Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, Manitoba

Case Study: Oakville and King Township, Ontario

Case Study: St-Valentin, Québec

Fall 2015 - Winter 2016: Interviews with two dozen senior energy, environmental and Indigenous leaders assessing their views of challenges to community confidence in energy decision-making. The findings were published in the report below.

 Fair Enough : Assessing Community Confidence in Energy Authorities by Michael Cleland, with Laura Nourallah and Stewart Fast

Spring 2015: A literature review of social acceptance and trust in energy development was written.

 Communities in Perspective: Literature Review of the Dimensions of Social Acceptance for Energy Development and the Role of Trust: by Laura Nourallah.

Public Opinion Survey Research

Positive Energy has a partnership with Nanos Research, its official pollster. We have undertaken surveys of the general public (see below) and have created an Energy Leaders Panel, comprised of some two thousand energy and environmental leaders across the country from the business, government, ENGO, Indigenous and academic sectors. Research findings from survey research appear below (reverse chronological order):

Canadians’ Views on Energy Decision-Making, Projects and Trade-Offs: April 2018

Canadians' Views on Canada's Energy Future: October 2017

Canadians' Views on Canada's Energy Future: October 2015

National Opinion Survey Results: March 2015

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