Archive for the ‘Climate News’ Category
It has been a tremendously busy year for CC-RAI, TRCA and York University. As 2012 draws closer we wanted to highlight what we have been working on over the last few months. Our December newsletter is now available, as is our previous September edition. The nature of a changing climate has created a wide range of social, economic and environment issues that will need to be addressed now and in the years and decades to come. CC-RAI looks forward to working with partners in Ontario, Canada and abroad to better understand, mitigate and adapt to the challenges of climate change. If you are interested in becoming involved or would like to work with CC-RAI and its partners on a specific project do not hesitate to contact us.
CC-RAI will be closed over the holidays, but would like to wish all our partners, and supporters a Happy Holidays and a very merry New Year! For our partners and supporters here’s a link to some holiday cheer – “I’m A Climate Scientist (made by real climate scientists).
“In many countries and cultures, women are at the forefront of living with the reality of the injustices caused by climate change… and can play a vital role as agents of change within their communities.” (Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, 2010)
Around the world, women and girls bear primary responsibility for collecting water and fuel wood. Climate change and related natural disasters force women and girls to walk further for more hours each day to find water and fuel wood. For many affected girls, this means dropping out of school because they no longer have time to attend.
When people are displaced by disasters, women and girls no longer have the safety and security of the homes they are forced to abandon. Homeless, living in temporary camps, women and girls experience increased vulnerability to violence and HIV infection. Especially when faced with a choice between going hungry or transactional sex in exchange for food and shelter. Climate change increasing violence against women and girls and the spread of HIV by reducing safety and security in communities.
We often talk in Canada about the importance of “saving the environment”. We participate in local recycling programs. We buy hybrid vehicles. We turn off the tap when we brush our teeth. But how often do we think about the impacts of climate change beyond our own front door…our own community? COP 17 in Durban, in the lead-up to Rio +20, has been an opportunity for Canada to take leadership on climate justice. Instead, not only did COP 17 fail to produce an agreement to replace the Kyoto Accord, but Canada pulled out of Kyoto one day after the COP 17 negotiations concluded. Canadians have an opportunity to respond to this decision by holding the federal government accountable for action on climate change. It’s time to act.
The Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, a foundation dedicated to ensuring that all countries acknowledge their responsibility for climate justice,uses a human rights lens to unpack and understand climate change. With advocacy rooted in the principle of respecting dignity and protecting human rights in all climate change responses, the Foundation emphasizes resource-fairness principle of the Right to Development movement and a commitment to equal sharing of the benefits and burdens of climate change.
The Foundation states that respecting the dignity of women and girls means mobilizing responses to climate change informed by the voices and priorities of women and girls – especially women and girls living in areas most affected by climate change. It means women sharing leadership at all levels of decision-making on climate change responses. It means participatory, transparent, accountable leadership and decision-making. It means working together and educating one another about the challenges we face, and developing solutions in collaboration across borders of all kinds.
Wangari Maathai, an exemplary woman leader and friend of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, was a Nobel Prize Winner and activist for climate justice and women’s rights who died on September 25, 2011. In celebrating the life of Wangari Maathai, we hear again her call to action: “There can be no peace without equitable development; and there can be no development without sustainable management of the environment in a democratic and peaceful space. This shift is an idea whose time has come.” The time has indeed come to think differently about climate change, and about the justice part of climate justice. There is no justice without human dignity. There is no climate justice without the voices and the leadership of women and girls.
World YWCA: www.worldywca.org
Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice: www.mrfcj.org
Former Executive Director of the Women’s Economic Council, Jessica Notwell is currently an Environmental Studies graduate student at York University studying young women’s leadership and human rights. Jessica has participated in many community initiatives including the board of Literacy Link Niagara, the board of YWCA St. Catharines, and MEI-Niagara micro-credit lending initiative. Jessica is also on the board of YWCA Canada and is Vice President on the board of the World YWCA as well as Chair of the Programme and Advocacy Committee. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys facilitating Strategic Planning and Board Development for nonprofit boards of directors. Jessica is passionate about the potential of the nonprofit sector to achieve the social justice goals of the global feminist movement, and takes every available opportunity to work toward this end.
For anyone looking for information on the upcoming event: Climate Adaptation – A Conversation with Roger Street (UKCIP) or the Climate Change Graduate Research Symposium you have come to the right place!
Both events will be held on the 24th of November in the York Research Tower on York University’s Keele Campus. Directions to a ‘Conversation with Roger Street’ can be found here and those to the graduate research symposium can be accessed through the following link. .
A final agenda for both events will be posted closer to the date.
CC-RAI and Knowledge Mobilization look forward to supporting a day full of lively discussion and dialogue around the challenges posed by a changing climate and the need for climate adaptation.
This event is generously supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
If you are interested to see what we have been up to why don’t you check out our new newsletter. As a new school year begins CC-RAI is looking forward to working with our existing colleagues and new partners. If you are a new student at York University and are interested in the interdisciplinary dimensions of the challenges posed by changing climate we would love to hear from you. CC-RAI aims to build on the successes of the previously year and work towards engaging more students and faculty around these issues. Watch this space for upcoming events and opportunities. There will be lots more news to follow.
Hundreds of millions of barrels of oil are believed to exist underground Yasuni National Park, a UNESCO world biosphere reserve in eastern Ecuador. As one can imagine, there has been some interest in extracting these reserves. According to national and international scientists, this park is home to the greatest biodiversity on earth. The region is also the home to the Huaorani, Tagaeri and Taromenane indigenous peoples, who live sustainably within the confines of this park. Given the incredible value of the commodity that lies beneath the forests, there is significant economic pressure to uproot people, animals and earth. That is unless the Ecuadorian government can raise enough money to justify leaving the oil in the ground. The Ecuadorian government is hoping to be compensated for 50% of the income it will forgo by leaving the oil in the ground. This amounts to US$ 3.6 billion over a 13 year period, which is no small sum. However, the value of reserve, the ecosystem services it provides, and the greenhouse gases it keeps out of the atmosphere are equally valuable.
Following the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 (among others), the costs of exploiting oil and the impact that a major incident could have on people and their livelihoods, the oceans and the species that share them is increasingly and viscerally understood. The reality remains that the world relies of fossil fuels – and our appetite for them continues to increase. While we continue to pursue the expansion of renewable energy, the global economy is still very much tied to oil. While as a society we try to decrease our reliance on this form of energy and the impact it has on our climate, we can take bold, innovative and creative steps to protecting the environment. An investment in the Yasuni ITT Trust Fund represents an opportunity for individuals around the world to stake a claim for conservation. If it is pursued, oil exploration is expected to create several social and environmental concerns, including the contamination of land, destruction of forests and extinction of local cultures, or at the very least, the social fabric of the area. By keeping the oil in the ground, Ecuador stands to protect its indigenous peoples, conserve its valuable biodiversity and limit its future contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, the world benefits from the preservation of biodiversity and the substantial amount of carbon that will not be released into the atmosphere.
In 2007, Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, agreed with a civil society proposal that the oil of Yasuni should remain underground. Since then, efforts have been underway to find a way to fund the initiative. However, time is running out. Despite some major donations, Ecuador needs to raise $100 million dollars by December 31, 2011. Approximately $60 million dollars is still outstanding. Working with the United Nation Development Program’s Multi Partner Trust Fund Office, the Equadorian government hopes to raise millions to protect Yasuni with the help of other governments, NGOs, and the global community.
While the debate rages over the development of newly discovered oil reserves in the Arctic, large companies like Shell are dealing with oil spills in the North Sea and lawsuits in Nigeria. The economic costs associated with the Deepwater Horizon spill are estimated well into the billions. The compensation fund BP had to establish has swelled to $20 billion dollars.
Admittedly, a lot of money may lie underneath the Yasuni reserve. However, an equally significant amount stands to be saved by keeping it there. It’s a carbon piggybank with an incredible value – keeping all that CO2 underground seems like a steal for $3.2 billion over 13 years. With the direct and indirect costs of climate change impacting nations and peoples around the world, protecting Yasuni seems like a sound economic investment if you value the atmosphere.
A rapidly changing climate requires us to be innovative and results-oriented in our approach to climate change adaptation. Basic assumptions are shifting that we have previously relied upon to guide us as standards in engineering and science. How can we best engage with each other in a process that requires us to combine the rigors of science with the fresh perception, innovation and intuition of the creative artist? Can we collectively and individually find within ourselves the capacity to fully participate in the scientific, socio-political, and creative process that is being called forth from us?
In this internship position I have had the opportunity to participate in the Ontario climate change weather and water information Gateway Project, with the Association for Canadian Educational Resources (ACER) in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). The purpose of this project is to create a website portal with regional and local climate and climate change information that will support decision-makers, managers, and researchers through climate change adaptation. My role as a researcher has focused on facilitating dialogue, information exchange, and supporting assessment of information and data needs for the management of stormwater risks associated with climate change across municipalities and conservation authorities in the GTA.
About the Intern: Margo is a graduate of the Master in Environmental Studies program at York University, where she specialized in Environmental Planning and Policy. Her positions have included participation in the public policy formulation process of government as a Policy Analyst and a Policy Officer. She also holds a Master of Arts Degree from York University in Fine Arts and Philosophy.
Stuart Schoenfeld, a sociologist and researcher with an appreciation for the global complexities of a changing environment and an interest in the local dynamics of the immediate environment a lot closer to home or rather work - the Glendon campus. Professor Schoenfield explores his interdisciplinary interests in a changing environment at home and abroad in CC-RAI’s new researcher guest blog.
Living here and having research interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, I’ve wondered how these different dimensions of my environmentalism come together. The differences are apparent. The Eastern Mediterranean is one of the world’s high profile, protracted conflict zones and Ontario is one of the world’s most peaceful places. The Eastern Mediterranean is geographically compact, with limited natural resources while Ontario is favored with large territory rich in resources.
Yet while these differences matter, the similarities are there too when we compare what is happening with climate change in both places. I co-manage a blog, “Environment and Climate in the Middle East,” which posts two to three times a week a review of environmental news, publications and conferences on environmentalism in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In the news reports, academic research and policy papers about environmental challenges in this
region, there is continual concern over water and energy management. Water and energy policy are
similarly high profile in Ontario. In the Eastern Mediterranean these high profile issues interact with
other environmental issues such as biodiversity, pollution, land use planning, transportation policy,
agricultural policy, sustainable development, and environmental justice, just as they interact in Ontario.
As well, in both settings, there is a similar challenge of making environmental issues public priorities. Other concerns, economic and political, crowd off the public agenda the urgent need to mitigate climate change and to adapt to what is already happening. In both settings, the impulse to deny or downplay the severe impacts of climate change and the retreat of news into infotainment are also barriers to effective action.
My research has focused on projects that work to build regional environmental cooperation as a response to a shared severe environmental challenge. Groups like the Friends of the Earth Middle East and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies have taken on the politically difficult task of fostering Palestinian-Israeli-Jordanian environmental cooperation. I’ve been interested in how these initiatives persevere despite the hostile climate of regional politics. The Eastern Mediterranean is also included in other projects of regional environmental cooperation. The EU sponsored Mediterranean Union has put the shared environmental challenge on its agenda; the Arab Forum for Environment and Development develops an environmental perspective on the broad region from Iraq to Morocco. Here too are similarities (but obviously not equivalencies) to the agenda for Ontario, as researching and responding to the threat of climate change necessitates cross-border coordination of multiple government, business and civil society stakeholders.
How do we work with other provinces and the federal government? With the U.S. borders states below us and the U.S. federal government? What kinds of joint research are possible? What are the venues for joint environmental policy? In the Eastern Mediterranean, regional environmentalists say, “Nature knows no borders.” The same holds true here.
This past year, I’ve also developed a small project on my immediate work environment – the Glendon campus with support from IRIS. A bit over a year ago, I helped the Toronto Field Naturalists prepare a walking tour of Glendon. Through that experience I learned to see the campus I had enjoyed but taken for granted with new eyes. With York alumnus John Court and two research assistants, we’ve built a detailed website on how the Glendon campus came to be a unique botanical garden, the historical significance of the Wood family estate on which the campus resides, and the role of the Glendon forest in the Don Valley ravine system. The website is a contribution to seeing the global in the local, and to cultivating the awareness of the role universities campuses can play in the important agenda of urban environmentalism.
On March 1st, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit and the Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration (CC-RAI) co-hosted the York University Climate Change Policy & Research Day. This was the biggest event held so far as part of the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change project. The event brought together policy partners from across the Greater Toronto Area, as well as faculty and students for a dialogue on research issues around climate change.
The event provided an excellent opportunity for students to speak with policy makers, planners and other practitioners focused on addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation issues in the Greater Toronto Area. Recognizing the need to develop the next generation of ‘climate savvy’ professionals the afternoon session allowed students to meet policy partners to discuss opportunities for summer internships.
Watch this space for to learn more about those internships and students currently involved.
Ultimately, the event demonstrated the value of seeking far greater research collaboration between researchers and policy makers to tackle climate change with the urgency it deserves. But, don’t take my word for, why don’t you hear what our participants had to say.
CC-RAI would like to thank the Knowledge Mobilization Unit and SSHRC for supporting this important program.
Since February of 2010, CC-RAI has been working with universities, as well as private and private sector organizations across the province to develop a pan-Ontario climate science, research and services initiative. In October of 2010, an Ad Hoc Committee was formed to address the need for Ontario focused climate science services. Since then, the Committee has met at various universities across the province. At each meeting support for collaborative action and cooperation between various stakeholders has grown.
Dr. Gordan McBean, a Canadian climatologist, professor at the University of Western Ontario and Director of Policy at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction chaired the Ad Hoc Committee process and has actively supported the development of the new Ontario Region Climate Change Consortium (ORCCC).
The Consortium and its objectives have been defined through a collaborative and inclusive consensus-building process. The Consortium represents a made-in Ontario solution to provide decision makers in government and the private sector with the ‘climate intelligence’ they need to address the challenges of a changing climate now and into the future.
Through this process a strategy has been developed to identify Ontario’s need for climate services and research and its capacity to deliver them. In advance of the release of the ORCCC Strategy and for additional information, please take a look at the Consortium Q&A: Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium: Building Necessary Capacity for Climate Services.
On April 7, CC-RAI hosted the inaugural meetings of the ’Climate Change Literacy’ and ‘Strengthening Interdisciplinary Collaboration’ working groups. Recognizing the challenges and opportunities for advancing a discussion around these issues it was great to see so many people around the table from across faculties and disciplines. There were representatives from the Faculty of Science and Engineering (Atmospheric Sciences and Chemistry), the Faculty of Environmental Studies, the Departments of Geography, Mathematics and Statistics, LAMPS, the School of Information Technology and the School of Administrative Studies. We would also like to thank members from Learning for Sustainable Futures (LSF) and IRIS for attending the meeting.
Acting on the recommendation of the report, Climate is No Small Talk: Climate Change Research at York and Beyond, the ensuing discussion provided an opportunity for faculty and students to share their ideas as to how best to spend the funding allocated to the two working groups.
The ‘brain stretching’ exercise generated a number of interesting and innovative ideas on a range of ‘actionable’ projects to engage faculty, students, and the public at large.
The working groups will be meeting again soon to further define their respective projects. If you are still interested in taking part in the working groups please contact CC-RAI.
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