Executive Director

Rob Shirkey is a recognized authority on the subject of climate change risk disclosures or ‘warning labels’ for gas pumps. He has given lectures on the topic across North America and has been featured in media all over the world. Rob is a recipient of Canada’s 2017 Clean50 Award and was also named a 2016 Agent of Change by the Centre for Social Innovation and Green Shield Canada Foundation. He was also recognized for his climate advocacy by the Friends of Europe think tank by being inducted into its European Young Leaders program in 2017.

Rob’s proposal has been endorsed by over a hundred academics and leaders in various disciplines from universities across North America. City and town councils across Canada have voted in favour of the concept and several U.S. cities are also pursuing the idea too. The idea is now being implemented in several communities on Canada’s west coast. Media outlets across North America are calling these historic global firsts. Rob is currently building a massive database of politicians’ emails to share these examples of leadership with the world.

Rob is a lawyer from Toronto, Canada. Prior to founding Our Horizon and launching its unique approach to addressing climate change, Rob operated a private practice in downtown Toronto. He also has experience as an Assistant City Solicitor and Prosecutor. Before completing his law degree, Rob studied business, economics, and psychology at the undergraduate level. He graduated with distinction and was the university valedictorian. He also once rode his bicycle across Canada!

Rob’s talks draw on the latest in climate change research. He gathers insights from psychology, sociology, economics, business, and law to build the case for demand-side, local action on climate change. His trial experience as a lawyer and his playful sense of humour makes him a compelling and entertaining speaker. Scroll down for some testimonials. Rob has given talks at:

  • Canadian Association of Wound Care Annual Conference (keynote)
  • OCAD University’s Reconstructing Resilience Symposium (keynote)
  • Conference of Ontario Law Associations’ Libraries (keynote)
  • Sustainable Solutions Symposium at Vancouver Island University (keynote)
  • NATO Association of Canada
  • International Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship 2016
  • Toronto Sustainability Speaker Series (TSSS)
  • Patagonia
  • Stanford Law School
  • Golden Gate University School of Law
  • University of Toronto
  • Ryerson University
  • McMaster University
  • University of Guelph
  • University of Waterloo
  • University of Ottawa Faculty of Law
  • Queen’s University Law School
  • Osgoode Hall Law School
  • University of Victoria Law
  • University of British Columbia
  • Simon Fraser University
  • McGill University
  • Concordia University
  • Dalhousie University
  • St. Thomas University
  • Vancouver Island University
  • San Mateo County Community College
  • TEDx
  • Centre for Social Innovation – Toronto & New York
  • Ontario EcoSchools Youth EcoSummit
  • HiVE Vancouver
  • Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Pecha Kucha 20×20 Toronto
  • Me to We
  • Green Living Show, Toronto 2016
  • Change Your World Conference 2015 & 2016 at York University
  • Plant for the Planet Foundation & Seattle 350, Seattle
  • Rotman School of Management
  • Ted Rogers School of Management
  • ClimateCon 2015 at MaRS Discover District
  • Ontario Climate Consortium’s 2015 Symposium
  • Environmental Visual Communication program at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum)
  • PowerShift
  • Council of Canadians
  • Earth Day Canada
  • Global Change Initiative
  • Wilfrid Laurier University’s Leadership Summit
  • Dwight School, New York
  • Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability
  • Rotman Net Impact’s Speaker Series
  • Deloitte & Rotman’s Behavioural Economics Insights Group
  • Blancride’s Earth Day
  • Citizens Climate Lobby Canada
  • Greater Toronto Area Clean Air Council
  • Toronto Climate Action Network
  • Guelph’s Annual Environmental Sciences Symposium
  • … and numerous schools and community organizations

You can read Rob’s writings at Municipal World here, the Huffington Post here, watch videos of lectures or interviews here, or listen to radio interviews here.

Please contact us at communications@ourhorizon.org to book Rob to speak at your event.

What people are saying:

“I have never seen an idea as brilliant as this one. It’s very cost effective… I have to congratulate Mr. Shirkey on an absolutely outstanding job. This is the best thing that I’ve seen come across my desk in 10 years.”
– Guelph City Councillor Bob Bell.

“I heard Rob speak at a Net Impact event for MBAs. The idea is elegantly simple and scalable.”
– Rick Smith, prominent Canadian author and environmentalist.

“Shirkey speaks at breakneck pace with a lawyer’s clarity and the energy of a children’s entertainer.”
– DeSmog Canada article.

“Labels on gas pumps? Brilliant!”
– Tzeporah Berman, Canadian environmentalist, campaigner and writer.

“It speaks to people precisely at the point in time when they need this message… How that message is framed is equally as important as when they receive it.”
– Toronto City Councillor Mike Layton on why he likes the idea in the Toronto Star.

“I heard Rob’s presentation at the Waterloo Citizens’ Environmental Advisory Committee. There’s a lot more to the idea than meets the eye and I’m glad we invited him to fully explain it. The committee has considerable interest in the labelling proposal and I look forward to exploring further in the new term.”
– Waterloo City Councillor Mark Whaley.

“Rob is a visionary who is not only looking to change the course of climate change, but our relationship with the environment. Through the Our Horizon initiative, Rob will revolutionize how we think about our environmental impact. He is also an innovative and inspiring entrepreneur who is engaging with youth across the country to take the lead in this movement. He was an excellent speaker at our Me to We Take Action Camp and is inspiring our youth to stand up for issues they care about.”
– Alex Meers, Director, Me to We Leadership Programs.

“Warning people about the dangers of unchecked fossil fuel consumption at a primary point of purchase is a stroke of subversive genius. It would force us to consider the true cost of every tank of gas, not just the price per litre. It would challenge our willful blindness reflex.
– Eric Rumble, Editor-in-Chief, Alternatives Journal.

“Rob is an eco-visionary who will stop at nothing to drive positive change.”
– Brad Zarnett, Founder and Executive Director at The Toronto Sustainability Speaker Series (TSSS).

“Out of the minds of youth come great things… I hope that we can be the first or second in Canada to do it.”
– West Vancouver Councillor Bill Soprovich after hearing 16-year-old resident Emily Kelsall present the idea.

“I think it’s a great idea.”
– Fredericton’s Deputy Mayor Eric Megarity after hearing students Nicholas Decarie and Karen Buckle present the idea.

“Rob gave an hour long guest lecture to my MBA class on his climate change labelling proposal. It was one of the most compelling talks I’ve seen in a while. I was surprised to learn the extent of inefficiency in carbon fuels, as exemplified by the car engine, and the amount of pollutants released into the atmosphere. There’s a lot more to the idea than is evident at first glance… I’m glad we got the full pitch.”
– ‎George Fleischmann, Lecturer at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

“Robert came to speak to my global management classes at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, to explain the goals of Our Horizon and discuss his path to success. Students were thrilled with his inspirational talk that demonstrated leadership and commitment to an idea being proposed in the public interest. Rob is making a huge personal sacrifice for our common good. In my mind, this makes Rob a great Canadian who I hope our country will appreciate and remember with fondness. I highly recommend him as a speaker.”
– Deborah de Lange, BASc, CPA, CMA, MBA, PhD Assistant Professor, Global Management Studies, Ted Rogers School of Management.

“Rob is a very engaging speaker and brings a refreshing and unique perspective to the discussion of climate change and social action. The presentation challenges us to look at our complicit relationship with the automobile and fossil fuels. Rob’s message helps bridge the gap between the individual and the ‘big picture’ problems and solutions.  This talk is well constructed, visually appealing and engaging for diverse audiences.”
– Dr. Erik Krogh, P.Chem., Co-Director, Applied Environmental Research Laboratories, Department of Chemistry, Vancouver Island University.

“I’ve been to all 19 COP meetings and I’ve never seen an idea so simple yet so powerful.”
– Delegate at the United Nations COP19 in Warsaw, Poland upon seeing Our Horizon‘s gas nozzle.

“Robert gave a presentation to our Newmarket Environmental Advisory Committee in the fall of 2014. In additional to sitting on the committee, I’m also an environmental professional and am used to hearing about up-and-coming ideas and products that will change the sustainability landscape. The Our Horizon initiative is one of the most interesting I’ve seen and its genius for me, lies in its simplicity. Capitalizing on one of the few ubiquitous activities of a regular schedule – fueling our vehicles – Our Horizon challenges the normality of burning fossil fuels right at the point of sale and eloquently prompts the consumer to think about their actions. I look forward to continuing to explore the initiative in 2015.”
-Phil Breault, Member of the Newmarket Environmental Advisory Committee

“Genius proposal.”
Upworthy, the fastest growing media website of all time.

“Just like we have on all packs of cigarettes, smoking cigarettes has been known by the surgeon general to cause cancer. We would love to see this idea spread all over the country.”
– San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos on climate change labels on gas pumps.

“I think it’s a clever way to get more people to think… It’s not going to immediately cease purchase at the gas pump. That’s not our goal. The point of sale is a great place to have people stop and think about the impact.”
– Berkeley City Councillor Kriss Worthington on the city’s decision to pursue proposal.

“[B]urning gasoline does more than just damage the climate. It also has more clearly local impacts, such as on air quality and on the urban heat island effect. The combined effect of these local impacts, and the real local pain caused by climate change as a whole, could be enough of a municipal nexus to support a labelling bylaw.”
– Dr. Dianne Saxe, a Canadian lawyer recognized as one of the top environmental lawyers in the world, in Municipal World.

“This is a modest proposal. We have also reviewed the language and we believe it to be legally ironclad and likely to withstand any court challenge.”
– Igor Tregub, Vice Chair of the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club on KPFA radio.

“Our Horizon was one of the best presentations I have seen in a long time. Rob demanded a lot from the students: attention, a healthy imagination, open mindedness and most importantly hope for the future. He delivered a well argued plan for municipal action on climate change that was thoroughly researched and rigorously presented, covering science, sociology, social marketing, political action and public health. I would not hesitate to have Our Horizon back to our school.”
– David Gordon, Dunbarton High School, Pickering.

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