3 questions to Daniel Normandin

Published on 27 February 2018

Daniel Normandin, a graduate of HEC Montréal, is since March 2014 executive director of the EDDEC Institute where Christian de Perthuis is currently visiting professor. Mr. Normandin has a rich academic career, dedicated to the establishment and development of various research units in the fields of environment, sustainable development and life cycle analysis. He is the author of several reports and articles on these subjects, and also co-wrote the book L’économie circulaire, une transition incontournable ()

What is the role of the EDDEC Institute in the academic community of Quebec ?

The EDDEC Institute was founded in spring 2014 with the strong support of HEC Montreal, Polytechnique Montreal and the University of Montreal. The main objective was to gather different expertise of the environmental sphere – from sustainable development to circular economy – and combine these approaches through research projects and workshops. Overall, the region is rich with more than 400 Professors and Associate Researchers, 1500 students and more than 200 research structures such as labs, research units, centers and chairs. At EDDEC, this valuable access to the Canadian french-speaking scientific community encompasses all scientific disciplines, especially Social Sciences, Economics, Natural Sciences and Engineering.

In your opinion, what are the underlying relationships between the energy transition and the concept of circular economy ?

Circular economy is defined as the optimal use of resources that are currently circulating in the economy. The underlying objective of a circular economy is to reduce the pressure on upstream resources and, at the same time, to stop the finite consumption of currently-used resources. From this perspective, reducing waste means that production and consumption take into account the finite aspect of exhaustible resources. It is a huge challenge as today, only 10% of the world material flows (including energy flows) are circular. It is also an important source of opportunities. The energy transition comes with an increasing consumption of minerals and raw metals, and some of them are already under pressure. Much more energy is going to be needed to extract these resources from the earth’s crust and centralized them. Nowadays, much of these resources are left in landfills or disseminated in the environment as heavy pollutants. Circular flows would reduce the pressure on not yet-commercialized resources but it implies a real and deep change regarding our production and consumption processes.

Could you give us your opinion on research projects carried out by the Climate Economics Chair?

CEC researches are very relevant, especially when considering a transition toward a circular economy. Their works on climate economic tools are useful to apprehend the burning issue of energy waste. Moreover, researchers do not forget to point the two sides of the coin – that some solutions may come with negative effects (eg. rebound effect). Nowadays, politicians are dreaming about simple and easy solutions to address climate change and academic researches at the Chair bring objective and critical insights. In this context, I am deeply convinced that many synergies are to be found between the CEC’s research programs and the multi-disciplinary approach developed at the EDDEC Institute.