Alberta beef cattle operation in winter
Alberta beef cattle operation in winter Karen Spencer

April 28, 2021

Simpson Centre gets green light for new carbon program

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry awards $1.17 million in funding

The Simpson Centre for Agricultural and Food Innovation and Public Education at the School of Public Policy is pleased to announce the generous funding of $1.17 million supplied over two years by the Government of Alberta for the Simpson Centre’s Carbon Program.

The program consists of an applied policy research and outreach project aimed at first understanding where Alberta’s agriculture industry baseline is for carbon emissions from various agriculture products, as well as developing policy recommendations to reduce those emissions, with a key part of the program being the dissemination and outreach aspect of its work.

“The Carbon Program is a fine example of the Simpson Centre acting as the hub for gathering information from diverse stakeholders, asking the right questions, and developing effective policy for today’s policy-makers,” says Dr. Pierre-Gerlier Forest, director and James S. and Barbara A. Palmer Chair, The School of Public Policy.

The Simpson Centre’s work focuses on the numerous social and economic factors that facilitate the success of Canadian agri-food and agri-business. It drives and disseminates research that informs and facilitates public and stakeholder dialogue about agri-food and agri-business issues with a focus on applied policy research related to issues affecting public trust, the future of the industry, and how these issues are managed and communicated. The centre provides a central site of Canadian research that strengthens and supports the growth and sustainability of agri-food and agri-business — especially in western Canada.

The Carbon Program targets a focused area of research for the Simpson Centre that aligns with its Environment and Climate Change pillar, while honouring the key tenet of sustained economic success in Canadian agri-food and agri-business. The program is proposed to fill a research niche that has been studied in many ways in Canada, but which has not, until now, been consolidated, studied as a tool for policy development, and disseminated with public outreach.

An Alberta canola field

An Alberta canola field

John Simpson

The program includes the first step of understanding the Alberta agriculture sector's key environmental practices and impacts. It will consider specific topics designed to help industry protect or improve water quality and soil health, and in doing so, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The second stage of the Carbon Program work will include in-depth research in policies designed to reduce agriculture emissions, to help position Canada for success in a low-carbon economy, and to best align with continued economic growth and success. The third facet of the Carbon Program is a targeted engagement approach to reach out to stakeholders on various central issues.

“One of the grand challenges of the next decade is to design a sustainable trajectory of carbon emissions, globally and locally. We need to design sound agriculture policies to achieve this goal, and a key step is to better measure where we are starting from,” says Dr. Guillaume Lhermie, DVM, PhD, director, Simpson Centre.

The new Carbon Program will enable Canada’s, and Alberta’s, agriculture industry to lead in the area of agriculture and carbon emissions reduction, both nationally and globally. Industry and government will have a locus of resources and expertise in the area of agriculture and carbon emissions reduction in the Simpson Centre.

"Alberta farmers and ranchers have always been hard working, innovative, and on the cutting edge of advances in technology. This project from the Simpson Centre will identify baseline carbon emissions and help the industry take credit for years of best practices. Alberta’s agriculture industry will continue to lead in sustainably across the globe," says the Hon. Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

If you are interested in more information regarding either the Simpson Centre for Agricultural and Food Innovation and Public Education, or the Carbon Program, please contact Guillaume Lhermie at

Guillame Lhermie is associate professor, production animal health, University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.