The Road to 2050: Policies for a Net-Zero Future

APRIL 6, 2021, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m EDT

Which policies will best lead us to a world with much lower greenhouse-gas emissions? In a country as sprawling, complex, and economically diversified as Canada, getting to net-zero GHG emissions is a Herculean task. It will require innovation in science and technology and collaboration among diverse stakeholders across all provinces and territories. It also demands bold public policies.

Co-hosted by the Bieler School of Environment and the Max Bell School of Public Policy, this interdisciplinary panel discussion will examine the many challenges involved in getting to net-zero, and the important role of public policy along the journey. The panel will examine the political landscape, the economic aspects of various policy approaches, the opportunities for Canada’s business sector, and the important role that civil society can play in this crucial transition.

Moderated by Max Bell School director and former chair of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, Chris Ragan, this panel brings together expert stakeholders from the perspectives of the private sector, politics, academia, and civil society to discuss Canada’s path to net zero.

Panelists include John Dillon, Senior Vice President, Policy and Corporate Counsel at the Business Council of Canada; Brian Topp, a partner at GT & Company and former chief of staff to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley; Nancy Olewiler, an economist and director of Simon Fraser University’s School of Public Policy; and Sabaa Khan, Director-General for Quebec and the Atlantic at the David Suzuki Foundation.

The first 100 registrants will be eligible to win one of four books on climate change chosen by our speakers!



John Dillon

John Dillon

Senior Vice President, Policy and Corporate Counsel, Business Council of Canada

"Achieving ambitious climate goals will require sound long-term policies that encourage private sector investment in the development and adoption of climate friendly solutions that benefit Canada and the world."


In his role as Senior Vice President, Policy and Corporate Counsel, John Dillon has primary responsibility for the Council’s policy work related to energy, the environment and sustainable development, corporate governance, and business-Indigenous relations.

Over the past 30 years with the Council, John has developed an active network of contacts across business, government, and the NGO community in the pursuit of sound public policy solutions. One of his current priorities is working with like-minded organizations across the country to advocate for a more coherent national approach to energy, resource and climate policy. He also chairs an informal industry coalition that aims to positively influence government policy related to climate change and air quality.



Sabaa Khan

Sabaa Khan

Director-General for Quebec and the Atlantic, David Suzuki Foundation

"Climate science tells us that decarbonization is not just the next investment frontier, it is the singular lifeline of our ecosystem and future generations. The low emissions world we are building will require a fundamental paradigm shift from the longstanding patterns of resource overexploitation and environmental externalities that have fueled the global economy for most of the industrial era."


Dr. Sabaa Khan is Director-General for Quebec and the Atlantic at the David Suzuki Foundation. She is an attorney member of the Barreau du Québec, specialized in international environmental and trade law. Prior to joining the Foundation, Dr. Khan was Senior Researcher at the Centre for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law based in Joensuu, Finland. In addition to providing counsel, publishing and lecturing in the field of global environmental governance, Dr. Khan has held a number of expert appointments, including on the NAFTA Advisory Council on the Environment (Government of Canada), Commission for Environmental Cooperation, and the UN Expert Group on LIRA Guidance (UNEP). Her work has been published by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the United Nations University - Institute for Sustainability and Peace, the Leiden Journal of International Law and Cambridge University Press, amongst others. Dr. Khan holds a doctorate in law from the Faculty of Law at McGill University, as well as law degrees from the Université de Montréal (LL.M.) and the University of Ottawa (LL.L.).



Nancy Olewiler

Nancy Olewiler

Economist & Director, Simon Fraser University School of Public Policy

"We are well past the time when we should be debating the need for decisive climate policy - we need all the efficient and effective tools available and better alignment in their use across the country."


Nancy Olewiler is an economist, professor and Director of the School of Public Policy, Simon Fraser University. Prior to coming to the Economics department at SFU in 1990, she was a professor in the Economics department at Queen’s University. Her PhD is in economics from the University of British Columbia. Nancy’s areas of research include natural resource and environmental economics and public policy. She has published widely on a wide range of environmental and natural resource issues, including studies on energy and climate policy, natural capital and ecosystem services, managing catastrophic risk, and federal tax policy.

She has served on federal and provincial government advisory committees and currently is Chair of the Macroeconomics Accounts Advisory Committee for Statistics Canada, on BC’s Climate Solutions Council, and Chair of the Mitigation Expert Committee of the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices. She has been a board member of TransLink, BC Hydro, and the Pembina Institute, and currently is on the boards of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, Technical Safety BC, and Genomics BC.



Brian Topp

Partner, GT & Company

"Canada has abundant capacity to create and distribute electricity, but our electricity story is one of feast coexisting with famine: a patchwork of systems improvised over time with highly disparate outcomes. The result is that have-not provinces depend on high-polluting and high-cost solutions (including remediation and decommissioning) to meet their energy needs."


Brian Topp is a partner at GT & Company, a fellow at the Public Policy Forum, a member of the board of the Broadbent Institute, and teaches a unit McGill University’s Max Bell School of Public Policy. In government, he served as chief of staff to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, and as deputy chief of staff to Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow.



Chris Ragan

Chris Ragan (Moderator)

Director, Max Bell School of Public Policy

"Carefully calibrated public investments in some technologies will likely be required if we are to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The right public investments may transform today’s wild cards into tomorrow’s safe bets."


Dr. Chris Ragan is a Canadian academic and economist. He is best known for his research on monetary policy, and for his popular introductory textbook, Economics, now in its fourteenth edition and co-authored by Richard Lipsey.

Previously, he was Chair of Canada's Ecofiscal Commission, a group of Canadian economists seeking to broaden the discussion of environmental pricing reform beyond the academic sphere and into the realm of practical policy application. From 2010 to 2013, Ragan held the David Dodge Chair in Monetary Policy at the C.D. Howe Institute, a Toronto-based public policy think tank. Previously, he served as the Clifford Clark Visiting Economist at the Department of Finance, a Special Advisor to the Governor of the Bank of Canada, and member of the C.D. Howe Institute's Monetary Policy Council. From 1996 to 2000, he was Editor-in-Chief of World Economic Affairs.

He has also been a columnist for numerous publications, including the National Post, the Montreal Gazette, the National Post Magazine, and most recently the Globe and Mail. 



This online event is free and open to the general public. It will feature auto-live captioning.  Please contact the School at [at] to request disability accommodations. All enquiries will be treated confidentially. Advance notice might be necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs. If you would like to submit a question to our panelists in advance, please send your question to [at]



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