By Jeff Rud, Times Colonist, Saturday, January 26, 2008


The province is setting aside a $90-million endowment to help run a new climate institute that will have its headquarters at the University of Victoria.

UVic president David Turpin said the institute will focus on ways to slow climate change and to adapt to the fact "that we recognize it's happening.'' Areas of focus at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions will include energy and transportation. But the centre will also help to educate the public on climate change.

"What we want to do is move past simply looking at the problems and identifying problems and to focus now on: What are the solutions?" Turpin said.

The institute will position B.C. to be an international leader in developing climate change solutions and attract research talent to B.C., he said.

"The intention of the province to endow this centre is huge. Because what that means is we will be able to attract the best and the brightest in the world. They will look at that level of commitment and will know that the resources will be there in perpetuity to make this initiative happen and to allow it to continue.'' Premier Gordon Campbell, who refers to climate change as "the single largest challenge that we've faced in our generation," said the institute will help deal with that challenge.

"I believe that it's critical for us to bring together all of the talents of British Columbians to try and assure that we adapt to these changes in the short-term and that we mitigate the impacts of how we live on the planet in the long-term,'' he said.

The institute will have a permanent staff of eight, including a director.

At startup, the institute will receive $4.5 million from B.C. After that, the endowment, expected to yield about $4 million annually, will pay for its operations.

The institute will gather top scientists and researchers with business and government to "develop new policy alternatives, to find ways to educate and encourage greener lifestyles, and to develop new green technologies into products that can be used by consumers around the globe,'' Campbell said yesterday in Vancouver.

The province's four "research-intensive" universities — UVic, University of B.C., Simon Fraser and University of Northern B.C. — will participate in the institute.

Besides the permanent staff in Victoria, the institute will feature 20 graduate student fellowships, 10 post-doctoral scholar fellowships, and four "visiting fellows," which will be distributed between the four universities.

At least 80 existing faculty members from those universities will also participate.

Campbell said UVic's reputation as a centre for climate research played a major role in it being chosen as the institute headquarters.