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Mark Winfield

Professor and Coordinator of MES/JD Joint Program

Co-Chair, Sustainable Energy Initiative

Coordinator, BES Certificate Program in Sustainable Energy
BA (Science & Technology Studies), MA PhD (Political Science) Toronto


Areas of Academic Interest

  • Environmental Policy
  • Environmental Law
  • Sustainable Energy
  • Climate Change Policy

My current research and teaching activities are focused in three areas

  • Sustainable energy and climate change policy
  • Sustainability, environmental governance, and regulatory regimes.
  • Environmental sustainability and the political economy of Ontario

Sustainable Energy and climate change policy

Energy policy is central to the relationship between environmental sustainability and economic prosperity in Ontario and Canada. My research on this subject began while I was program director with the Pembina Institute. My work after joining York University in July 2007 has included a sustainability assessment of the Ontario Power Authority’s proposed Integrated Power System Plan and a study of the province’s policy framework related to energy conservation. I have also published on social conflicts related to the development of wind energy in Ontario and on the evolution of the province’s electricity policy framework. I have recently completed an SSHRC Connection grant supported seminar series on Ontario-Quebec energy and climate change issues and a major SSHRC PDG project on smart grids. I am currently co-investigator, focused on public policy, in an NESRC funded strategic research network on energy storage technologies, and co-investigator in an SSHRC PDG on Community Energy Planning. I have given numerous invited lectures and presentations, media interviews and had a number of opinion-editorial published on energy and climate change policy. I am Co-Chair of the University’s Sustainable Energy Initiative (  and a founding steering committee member of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Policy Network (

Sustainability, environmental governance and regulatory regimes

I have published research papers, book chapters, refereed articles and commentaries on various dimensions of environmental governance in Canada. The specific topics covered have included: the use of new public management, and smart and reflexive regulatory models in environmental and natural resource management policy; federalism and environmental and climate change policy, environmental and sustainability assessment; and approaches to policy implementation and evaluation in Canadian environmental policy. My recent work has focused on railway safety regulatory regimes in the aftermath of the Lac-Megantic disaster, and the post-2015 federal election reform of the Bill C-38 changes to the federal regulatory and approvals system for major energy and infrastructure projects.

Environmental Sustainability and the Political Economy of Ontario

The relationship between environmental sustainability and the political economy of Ontario has been a central focus of my research throughout my career, including my time with the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy (1992-2001) and the Pembina Institute (2001-2007).  My book Blue-Green Province (UBC Press 2012) provides a summation of this research to date and explores potential directions for the future evolution of the province’s society, economy and environment. I have followed up on these themes with a number of book chapters, articles, opinion-editorials and other publications, focused on energy, electricity and climate change policy.

Other Positions/Affiliations

Select prizes and awards

  • Metcalf Foundation, Leaders in the Field Fellowship (2007)