Climate Change

  • Taking Climate Action

    Two hands representing earth and nature.

    By: Kassie Burns

    Day by day more horror stories continue to be released about the world being on fire or underwater and it is time we heard the earth’s plea. The International Day of Climate Action took place on October 24th, where we were all challenged to participate in taking climate change actions. We list several ways you can make a difference down below, but first we thought it is important to celebrate the climate action achievements that have been undertaken over the past year. This year alone several major accomplishments have been made and we would like to recognize the hard work and dedication given through some of the many stories that exist across campus.

    Celebrating Climate Action Achievements 2022

    The first ever Niagara Climate Change Summit was held late June that brought together partners of Brock University, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, and hosted by the Niagara Region. The event was streamed online for all community members to view morning discussions that was followed by offline conversations of stakeholders to understand the local impact of climate change.

    International Development Week, was hosted by Brock that provided a week-long series held virtually that brought awareness to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

    Brock University continues to foster education in sustainability after the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre launched their PhD in Sustainability Science, the first of its kind in Canada. The inaugural candidates in the program started their studies this fall 2022!

    Additionally, a new program in Earth and Planetary Science Communication will be added for Fall 2023 that allows students to explore space and climate change while promoting global communication through storytelling.

    Brock University Master of Public Health student, Shannon Bird, has been developing an educational lesson plan to help engage youth in sustainability through artwork. The program allows youth to have their voice heard in conversations. She recently won the National Collaborating Centres for Public Helath Knowledge Translation Graduate Student Award for her work!

    On Earth Day, Brock University students in the course Climate Crisis raised funds to plant a Ginkgo biloba tree outside of Mackenzie Chown to help elevate some of the emissions caused from time spent on laptops.

    Baharak Razaghirad, research assistant, and Marilyne Jollineau, lead of Brock’s Lincoln Living Lab, created an urban tree canopy assessment for the Town of Lincoln in the summer. Together they communicated the socio-environmental benefits of trees, mapped current tree locations, identified priority locations in need of planting, and more to help the community adapt to climate change.

    New ground was covered in The Purdhommes Project as a workshop was held in June to develop a tool to assess multifunctional landscapes in the Town of Lincoln. It will specifically help the Town acquire criteria to establish these landscapes in hope to promote resilience and sustainable community development.

    Brock took great pride in announcing Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) was credited as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building! The certification is recognized globally that looks for efficient energy in carbon and green buildings, which is especially difficult to achieve with older structures.

    We hosted two sustainability challenges this year to encourage Brock students to participate in sustainable actions by everyday lifestyle choices. The challenge gave students the opportunity to track actions that also brought awareness to the impact individual actions. Together the last challenge alone saved approximately 15,000 kg of CO2, diverted 1,100 kg of waste from landfills and saved 128,000 L of water!

    Two Brock University Master of Sustainability candidates received a grant from the World Wildlife Fund – Canada (WWF) to form a seed library. The seeds are available at James A. Gibson Library on campus free of charge! Students are kindly asked to plant the seeds and then return harvested seeds from the plants they have grown to continue the cycle. The library helps collect and distribute rare and native seeds to promote genetic diversity in the region!

    This year the winners of the Sustainability Poetry Contest was announced at a virtual event that created an inspirational discussion on sustainability and promotes the power of language in art.

    A webinar series to discuss the climate emergency and sports through a partnership with Brock University’s Centre for Sport Capacity and University of British Columbia’s Centre for Sport and Sustainability took place in February. The conversation took a critical lens at how sports will be impacted by the climate crisis and how to offset changes.

    Initiatives to Take Climate Action

    Everyone can act on climate change; see how you can participate today with some easy initiatives from the United Nations!

    1. Eat more vegetables
    2. Walk bike or take public transit
    3. Throw away less food
    4. Consider an electric vehicle
    5. Try repairing items instead of replacing them
    6. Reduce the amount you travel by airplane
    7. Use less water (be mindful of shower times, turn the tap off while brushing teeth, and use appropriate laundry load sizes)
    8. Be aware of eco-conscious products/services
    9. Save energy at home (unplug electronics, dress appropriately to lower heating/cooling, use LED light bulbs, wash clothes with cold water and hang them to dry)
    10. Let your voice be heard (seek out climate strikes, join clubs, vote for people who support the environment)

    Whether it is joining climate rallies or using less water, we all have the power to make a difference each and every day! Tag us at BUsustainable to shows how you are taking action and making a difference in your community.


    United Nations. (N/A). Start with these ten actions. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from


    Categories: Activism, Climate Change, Student Contributor

  • Niagara Climate Change Summit: Collaborating for a Sustainable Future

    Blog Contributor: Alexandra Cotrufo

    On June 28th, 2022, the Niagara Climate Change Summit took place in Pond Inlet. The Summit was hosted by the Niagara Region in partnership with Brock University and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.  

    The Summit came after a motion was passed in September 2021 by the Regional Council to declare a climate change emergency. Niagara’s annual average air temperature has risen by 1.4°C since 1910, and it is expected that this number will reach 1.8°C by the year 2050, according to Brock research. More than ever before, transformational change is needed to combat and mitigate the severe impacts of climate change. 

    The Summit brought together representatives from 12 local municipalities, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and the private sector to make a commitment to actively do more to address climate change in Niagara. 

    The day started with a traditional Indigenous opening by Dylan Ritchie (Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre) from the Saugeen First Nation, followed by a keynote presentation by Karen Farbridge (Karen Farbridge & Associates). Karen’s presentation focused on the importance of pushing for climate action at the local level, with the theme revolving around “Think global, act local.” She encouraged the Summit attendees to take bold action and collaborate with one another to build a more efficient, resilient, and sustainable Niagara. 

    Following the keynote presentation, The Regional Chair’s Youth Advisory Panel, represented by Salony Sharma (Chair) and Keegan Hedley (Vice-Chair), spoke to attendees about the effects climate change has on Niagara’s youth and the importance of climate action for future generations. Salony and Keegan urged everyone in the room to act on climate change, engage Niagara youth in discussions, and make a true commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2050. Their presentation closed with a powerful video highlighting how youth in Niagara feel about climate change. 

    Two panel discussions were later held, which focused on topics of leading environmental and climate change action in communities, and climate change action and the economy. 

    Summit attendees participated in facilitated discussions which will help inform a more cohesive climate change action plan for the Region.

    The afternoon consisted of several facilitated roundtable discussions, which focused on topics such as biodiversity, agriculture, local food and wine, sustainable transportation, home and building efficiency, and more. The roundtable session aimed to identify opportunities and barriers to advancing climate action in Niagara within various key sectors. 

    These discussions are an important first step for developing a network for collaboration, and the ideas and feedback collected will be utilized to develop a more cohesive climate change action plan for the Region. 

    Over 100 individuals, representing dozens of local organizations, signed the call to action.

    Following the roundtable discussions, Summit attendees were invited to sign a call to action as a pledge to continue engaging in important discussions surrounding climate change and sustainable development.  

    This acted as a demonstration of commitment to form partnerships, share knowledge, and accelerate action on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions in Niagara. Over 100 individuals, representing dozens of local organizations, signed the pledge. 

    The Summit acted as a foundational first step for Niagara organizations, institutions, and municipalities to commit to working together to invest in the critical change that is needed to mitigate environmental challenges and prevent further negative impact. 

    If you would like to view the presentations and panel discussions, you can find the recording on the Region’s YouTube channel or at the Niagara Climate Change Summit website. 

    Photos courtesy of Flashbox Photography.

    Categories: Climate Change, Niagara, Student Contributor, Sustainability

  • Brock Students Celebrated Earth Hour with Sustainability Challenge

    By: Madison Lepp

    On the week of March 21 to 25, Brock hosted its second Sustainability Challenge to encourage engagement in Earth Hour. Earth Hour engages millions of people in switching off their lights to show support for our planet. The day has become a catalyst for positive environmental impact – driving major legislative changes by harnessing the power of collective action. This year, 2022, was branded as The Year That Counts. Later this year, world leaders will be coming together to attend a critical United Nations conference on nature & biodiversity. Happening shortly before the CBD COP 15, Earth Hour is a crucial opportunity to put the spotlight on this conference and build the global momentum needed to pressure world leaders into action later in the year.

    The challenge, which was hosted in partnership with Blackstone Energy Services, encouraged students to log their sustainable actions over a one-week period on the Blackstone Energy app. The goal of the challenge was to engage the student community in contributing to Sustainability at Brock and highlight ways to easily integrate sustainable solutions into everyday life. Actions included turning the tap off when brushing your teeth, composting, air drying dishes, buying local, and so much more.

    “We are thrilled with the level of student participation we’ve seen in throughout the sustainability challenges we’ve held this year and are hopeful these challenges are allowing students to see how small changes they can make in their own lives can have large scale impacts. ” said Amanda Smits, Centre Administrator at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre.

    The rules were simple: log all sustainable actions you made throughout the day on the app to accumulate points. The three students who accumulated the most points by the end of the competition won a Grouphug window solar charger, a Cyboris solar-powered Bluetooth speaker, and a Hydro Flask from the Campus Store plus two Stasher reusable silicone bags.

    Winners of the challenge were happy to share the impact this initiative had on their day-to-day lives. First-place finisher Sydney Macintyre, noted how she has brought the actions taken during the challenge into her everyday life:

    “My most logged action was walk there,” she said. “I am finding myself walking to close locations everyday versus driving. This challenge has brought to light many ways in which sustainability can be incorporated into your daily itinerary!”

    Second-place finisher noted how the challenge made her really think about the bigger picture

    “This challenge made me appreciate how significant Earth Hour is,” said KC Vega. “It was a way to contribute something good and positive to help save our Earth. I would highly encourage others to take part in this challenge; as I would definitely participate again in the next one!”

    Through the app, we were able to estimate CO2 savings, waste diversion, and water savings from students logging their sustainable actions. With over 1,000 actions logged, an estimated total of 1,390 kilograms of CO2(about half the weight of an elephant) and 12,660 litres of water (about half the volume of a large U-Haul truck) were saved. Additionally, 75 kilograms of waste (about the weight of a washing machine) was diverted. The top actions included using a reusable water bottle, turning off the water when brushing your teeth, recycling, using a reusable mug, and turning off the lights when leaving a room.

    “I liked the challenge because it was a fun way to connect with other students off-campus in a challenging way!” Said third-place finisher, Victoria Stinson. “It was genuinely so much fun competing while completing sustainable actions!”

    The goal of the Sustainability Challenge was to highlight Earth Hour and how easy it is to make small, yet impactful, sustainable choices every day. Students are encouraged to continue taking eco-friendly actions to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to the health of the environment!

    Categories: Challenge/Contest, Climate Change, Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • A snapshot into the recent IPCC impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability projections

    Blog Contributor: Alexandra Cotrufo

    Photo: DisobeyArt / Getty Images

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), The Working Group II, recently contributed to the Sixth Assessment Report which “assesses the impacts of climate change, looking at ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities at global and regional levels. It also reviews vulnerabilities and the capacities and limits of the natural world and human societies to adapt to climate change”. This contribution is critical in helping us understand the current state of the environment and what urgent work is needed to prevent devastating impacts on people and the planet.

    In addition to a summary for policymakers, the IPCC created fact sheets which provide snapshots of key findings for the seven regions across the globe. Here is an overview of the fact sheets which showcase how the climate crisis affects different parts of the world in different ways. This blog post will only cover information in the fact sheets that focus on ecosystems, food, and water, but we encourage you to read the full fact sheets as well as the summary for policymakers to gain a thorough understanding of how climate change impacts various countries and the barriers that exist for adaptation, specifically for our most vulnerable communities.


    • African biodiversity loss is projected to be widespread and escalating with every 0.5°C increase above present-day global warming
    • Above 1.5°C, half of assessed species are projected to lose over 30% of their population or area of suitable habitat. At 2°C, 7–18% of species assessed are at risk of extinction, and over 90% of East African coral reefs are projected to be severely degraded by bleaching.
    • In Africa, agricultural productivity growth has been reduced by 34% since 1961 due to climate change, more than any other region. Future warming will negatively affect food systems in Africa by shortening growing seasons and increasing water stress
    • Global warming above 2°C will result in yield reductions for staple crops across most of Africa compared to 2005 yields.
    • Climate change poses a significant threat to African marine and freshwater fisheries. Under 1.7°C global warming, reduced fish harvests could leave 1.2–70 million people in Africa vulnerable to iron deficiencies, up to 188 million for vitamin A deficiencies, and 285 million for vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids by mid-century.
    • Recent extreme variability in rainfall and river discharge across Africa have had largely negative and multi-sector impacts across water-dependent sectors.
    • Projected changes present heightened cross-cutting risks to water-dependent sectors and require planning under deep uncertainty for the wide range of extremes expected in future.


    • Observed biodiversity loss of animals and plants was linked to climate change in some parts of Asia.
    • Future climate change would cause biodiversity and habitat loss in many parts of Asia and would reduce suitable habitat of protected plants.
    • The risk of irreversible loss of coral reefs, tidal marshes, seagrass meadows, plankton community and other marine and coastal ecosystems increases with global warming, especially at 2°C temperature rise or more.
    • Increased floods and droughts, together with heat stress, will have adverse impact on food availability and prices of food resulting in increased undernourishment in South and Southeast Asia.
    • By mid-21st Century, the international transboundary river basins of Amu Darya, Indus, Ganges could face severe water scarcity challenges due to climatic variability and changes acting as stress multipliers.
    • Due to global warming, Asian countries could experience increase of drought conditions (5-20%) by the end of this century.


    • Climate trends and extreme events have combined with exposure and vulnerabilities to cause major impacts for many natural systems, with some experiencing or at risk of irreversible change in Australia and in New Zealand.
    • The Bramble Cay melomys, an endemic mammal species, became extinct due to loss of habitat associated with sea level rise and storm surges in the Torres Strait.
    • Extensive coral bleaching events and loss of temperate kelp forests have occurred, due to ocean warming and marine heatwaves.
    • Climate trends and extreme events have combined with exposure and vulnerabilities to cause major impacts for some human systems.
    • Extreme heat has led to excess deaths and increased rates of many illnesses.
    • Droughts have caused financial and emotional stress in farm households and rural communities.
    • Nuisance and extreme coastal flooding have increased due to sea-level rise superimposed upon high tides and storm surges.

    Central and South America

    • Ocean and coastal ecosystems in the region such as coral reefs, estuaries, salt marshes, mangroves and sandy beaches are highly sensitive and negatively impacted by climate change and derivedhazards.
    • Coral reefs are projected to lose their habitat, change their distribution range and suffer more bleaching events driven by ocean warming.
    • Up to 85% of natural systems (plant and animal species, habitats and communities) evaluated in the literature for biodiversity-rich spots in the region are projected to be negatively impacted by climate change.
    • The Amazon Forest, one of the world’s largest biodiversity and carbon repositories, is highly vulnerable to drought and was highly impacted by the unprecedented droughts and higher temperatures observed in 1998, 2005, 2010 and 2015/2016, attributed partly to climate change.
    • The combined effect of anthropogenic land use change and climate change increases the vulnerabilities of terrestrial ecosystems to extreme climate events and fires.
    • Glacier retreat, temperature increase and precipitation variability, together with land-use change, have affected ecosystems, water resources, and livelihoods through landslides and flood disasters.
    • Increasing water scarcity and competition over water are projected.
    • Disruption in water flows will significantly degrade ecosystems such as high-elevation wetlands and affect farming communities, public health and energy production.
    • Extremely long dry spells have become more frequent affecting the economies of large cities in southeast Brazil.
    • Impacts on rural livelihoods and food security, particularly for small and medium-sized farmers and Indigenous Peoples in the mountains, are projected to worsen, including the overall reduction of agricultural production, suitable farming area and water availability. 


    • Our current 1.1°C warmer world is already affecting natural and human systems in Europe.
    • Impacts of compound heatwaves and droughts have become more frequent and largely negative impacts are projected for southern regions.
    • Substantive agricultural production losses are projected for most European areas over the 21st century, which will not be offset by gains in Northern Europe.
    • While irrigation is an effective adaptation option for agriculture, the ability to adapt using irrigation will be increasingly limited by water availability, especially in response to warming above 3°C.
    • In Southern Europe, more than a third of the population will be exposed to water scarcity at 2°C warming and significant economic losses in water and energy dependent sectors may arise.
    • Coastal flood damage is projected to increase at least 10-fold by the end of the 21st century, and even more or earlier with current adaptation and mitigation.
    • Sea level rise represents an existential threat for coastal communities and their cultural heritage, particularly beyond.

    North America

    • Rising air, water, ocean, and ground temperatures have restructured ecosystems and contributed to documented redistribution and mortality of plant, fish, bird, mammal and other faunal species.
    • Escalating climate change impacts on marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems will alter ecological processes and amplify other anthropogenic threats to protected and iconic species and habitats.
    • Climate-induced redistribution and declines in North American food production are a risk to food and nutritional security.
    • Climate change will continue to shift North American agricultural and fishery suitability ranges and intensify production losses of key crops, livestock, fisheries, and aquaculture products.
    • Heavy exploitation of limited water supplies, especially in the western US and northern Mexico, and deteriorating freshwater management infrastructure, have heightened water security impacts and risks.
    • Intensified droughts and earlier runoff from diminished snowpack will increase water scarcity during the summer peak water demand period especially in regions with extensive irrigated agriculture, leading to economic losses and increased pressures on limited groundwater as a substitute for diminished surface water supplies.

    Small Islands

    • The continued degradation of terrestrial and marine ecosystems of small islands due to negative human impacts will amplify the vulnerability of island peoples to climate change impacts.
    • New studies highlight large population reductions with an extinction risk of 100% for endemic species within insular biodiversity hotspots including within the Caribbean, Pacific and Sundaland regions by 2100 for less than 3°C warming.
    • Ecosystem degradation is likely to decrease the provision of resources to the millions of people inhabiting small islands, resulting in impacts upon settlements and infrastructure, food and water security, health, economies, culture, and migration.
    • It is estimated that with a warming of 1.5°C or less, freshwater stress on small islands would be 25% less as compared to 2.0°C.
    • Drought risk projections for Caribbean Small Island Development States (SIDS) indicate that a 1°C increase in temperature could result in a 60% increase in the number of people projected to experience severe water resources stress from 2043–2071.
    • On small islands, coastal land loss attributable to higher sea level, increased extreme precipitation and wave impacts, and increased aridity have contributed to food and water insecurities that are likely to become more acute in many places.

    It is evident that globally, climate change has severe impacts on the health of our ecosystems and the natural resources needed to sustain all life. Policymakers, organizations, government bodies, and every individual must take urgent action to adapt, mitigate risks, and reduce the rate that climate change is occurring.

    We know this information may be overwhelming, but it is necessary to fully understand the current state of the environment so we can work toward finding sustainable solutions. If you’re struggling to deal with the reality of climate change, read our blog post about eco-anxiety and how to manage it here.

    Categories: Climate Change, Student Contributor

  • Eco-anxiety: What is it and how to manage it

    Blog Contributor: Alexandra Cotrufo

    Photo by Mushroomhead

    Climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, forest degradation… If hearing these terms sparks feelings of fear, dread, anger, and sadness, you are not alone. The current environmental crisis has obvious impacts on the health of the planet, but it can also have extreme impacts on the mental and physical health of the humans living on it.

    Eco-anxiety refers to persistent worries about the environment and the future of the planet. It is caused by negative changes in the earth’s climate and can be experienced directly (I.e., from witnessing a heavily polluted beach) or indirectly (I.e., from hearing about a forest fire through a news channel). Symptoms of eco-anxiety include (but are not limited to) trauma, shock, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness, guilt, anger, sadness, and frustration. There are also other terms associated with eco-anxiety and our connection with the environment, such as solsalgia, which is used to describe emotional or existential distress caused by climate change, and topophilia, which is used to describe one’s bond with the environment and their mental, emotional, and cognitive ties to a place.

    Eco-anxiety is not currently listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which means it is not officially considered a diagnosable condition. However, mental health professionals and researchers are increasingly looking into the impacts of climate change on mental health and ways to combat and treat feelings of eco-anxiety. It is completely normal to worry about the health of the environment and the future of the planet – it means you care about climate change and want to see the implementation of sustainable environmental solutions! But excessive worry can interfere with daily life and make it difficult to accomplish simple tasks.

    If you find yourself anxious and stressed about climate change, here are five things you can do to ease your fear and improve your overall wellbeing.

    1. Acknowledge your feelings

     The first step in dealing with eco-anxiety is to acknowledge your feelings and understand that they are completely valid and normal. A recent Climate Access report on Canadians’ opinions about climate change found that 45% of respondents are worried about the state of the environment and 25% are truly alarmed. There are many people in the world who share the same feelings you might have about climate change, so it’s important to remember that you are not alone and there are others who also care about the environment and want to create meaningful change.

    1. Talk about it 

    Even though there are others who also experience feelings of eco-anxiety, it’s easy to feel alone when grappling with your emotions. Try to talk about your feelings and experiences with friends, family, and confidants. Talking through things with others can help you see things from a different perspective and alleviate some of the burden that comes with keeping your thoughts bottled up. You may also find that your loved ones share similar feelings with you, which you might find comfort in knowing.

    1. Take a break

    Engaging in climate action can take a toll on your mind and body. It’s critical that you take a break whenever you feel you need one to disconnect from your phone/computer and focus on some psychological self-care. As put so perfectly in the national bestselling book All We Can Save (which we highly recommend reading!), “A stressed-out body and mind work less efficiently and effectively…By contrast, a balanced, resilient mind is a kinder and more compassionate, alert, productive, and effective mind.” So, take a walk, watch some guilty pleasure TV, go to the movies, hangout with friends, or do anything else that gets your mind off the state of the environment for a bit. Your body will thank you. 

    1. Maintain a healthy routine

    Having a routine can help you feel more in control of your life and can reduce the stress that comes along with uncertainty and chaos. When environmental health and climate change feel out of your control, focus on the things in your life that you can control like your school, work, relationships, and hobbies. Make sure you’re also getting enough sleep and at least 30 minutes of daily exercise to help clear your mind and keep you feeling refreshed and alert.

    1. Do what you can

    Climate action can be extremely overwhelming, and it’s difficult to know what exactly you should be doing to contribute to a more sustainable world. Small tasks can often feel meaningless or like they do not hold a lot of weight, but it’s important to remember that every step is a step in the right direction. It’s impossible for one person to fix the mistakes of millions, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have all the answers and be a “perfect” environmentalist. Whatever you’re able to do, do it! Some weeks you may be able to do more than others. But whether you pass on the straw or join a protest, remember that you are doing what you can.

    If you find yourself struggling to cope with eco-anxiety and these tips do not work for you, please seek professional support to get the help you need. Brock’s Personal Counselling Services are available to all Brock students and are offered as part of the ancillary fees that students pay annually. Remember to always be kind to yourself. You are not alone. We are in the fight for climate justice together.



    Categories: Climate Change, Student Contributor

  • It wasn’t all blue skies at COP26: A look at the conference from the eyes of activists

    Blog Contributors: Alexandra Cotrufo and Madison Lepp


    COP26 – the conference aimed at tackling current environmental, social, and economic challenges which took place earlier this month – was an event that started with hope and ambition but ended with anger and disappointment for many. For a more thorough review of what happened over the two-week period, you can read our What Happened at COP26? The Summit in Review blog post. The annual conference aimed to bring world leaders together to agree on promises to reduce environmental degradation and provide relief and support for our most vulnerable communities. Concerned citizens and climate activists were hoping COP26 would be an opportunity for leaders to finally commit to ending the burning of fossil fuels by 2030, a critical decision needed to prevent global temperatures from rising above 1.5°C according to the IPCC special report. Instead, powerful governments settled on compromises which put the interests of the fossil fuel industry ahead of the survival of humanity.  

    From the very first day of the conference, activists were on standby inside and outside the front doors of the Scottish Event Campus to hold government leaders accountable for their actions and past promises. Over the following eleven days, many protests broke out on the streets of Glasgow in response to the lack of action being taken toward climate justice, the failure to provide accessibility to the conference, and the prominence of greenwashing. 


    Many delegates and activists travelled long distances to get to COP26. To their surprise, many barriers came in the way of them entering the venue. Organizers, who issued accreditation for 39,000+ people to access a 10,000-person capacity venue, were criticized for not accommodating the capacities. Participants who traveled far distances were told to return to their hotels and watch the event from the online broadcast. Although the organizing groups blamed the pandemic, those who planned to attend the conference virtually were also let down by the limited opportunities to interact in the various events. Participating virtually only allowed for viewing and did not allow for the raising of hands or asking of questions. This limited the number of members who were able to participate from the Global Southparticularly Indigenous communities. Furthermore, despite the conferences promotion of ensuring inclusivity, little work was done to uphold this. With no wheelchair access and no sign language interpreters on stagemany accused the conference of being exclusionary and ableist. 

    Marginalized groups and minority communities are those most hit by the harsh effects of climate change while also being the least responsible for it. For this reason, their voices should be at the center of climate action. CNN interviews with dozens of underrepresented groups revealed the harsh truths of COP26Throughout the conference, underrepresented groups were placed at the back of auditoriums and were asked to leave the rooms when capacity levels were reached. A representative from the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus was asked to leave negotiations on carbon markets – the very issue that impacts their lands the most. Many felt they were being tokenized, given the observer status to perform dances and prayers, but unable to voice their opinions when negotiations started. 

    Not only was the presence of country delegates outnumbered by the presence of fossil fuel industry membersit was also clear that members of this industry had an agenda – and this agenda involved a lot of greenwashing. Within the exhibitions, many noticed that the European Union’s events were being run by lobbyists. Examples include events such as Global Guarantees of Origin for Clean Hydrogen” which was run by Hydrogen Europea lobbyist group with members including the likes of Shell, Total, and Equinor. And the European Union (EU) was not the only one, further events were being run by gas giants in the attempt to employ a key strategy of the fossil fuel industry. 


    Large protests broke out over the course of the conference in response to the lack of accountability and action being taken toward the climate crisis, as well as the presence of fossil fuel lobbyistsWell-known youth activists such as Vanessa NakateDominika LasotaMitzi Tan, and Greta Thunberg released an open letter, which has received more than 1.8 million signatures, urging political leaders to step up and use their position of power to make the decisions needed to save the planet from further devastation. Just a couple days later, hundreds of protestors gathered outside a nearby shopping center to demand that companies take ownership for their contribution to rising greenhouse gas emissions and end greenwashing tactics. This protest came after the news that since 2010, a large portion of the $1.1 trillion invested in the energy sector went towards funding the fossil fuel industry. 

    A mass rally of over 10,000 people was also held by the Fridays for Future Scotland activist group on November 5th, where protestors marched throughout the city’s west end to call for immediate action from world leadersThis was one of the largest protests that took place in response to COP26, and activists from all over the world gave speeches about how climate change is affecting the places they call home, including Greta Thunberg who called the conference a failureMany students skipped school to join the protest in an effort to bring discussions about climate change out from enclosed spaces and onto the streets. 

    An even bigger protest took place the following day, which included more than 100,000 participants according to event organizersDespite the rainspirits were strong among the crowd as banners were held high and bagpipes were playedPeoples from Indigenous communities from North and South America joined the march, many of whom did not have adequate representation inside the conference, to fight against the environmental destruction caused by mining and deforestation.  

    These are a few examples of the many protests that took place in response to the events at COP26. Activists fought to make leaders aware that they are not backing down in the fight toward climate justice and they will continue to push back until promises are turned into progress. 

    How You Can Take Action

    Every one of the climate promises to come out of COP26 must be kept if we are going to have a chance at restoring the Earth. You may be thinking “how can I help Canada and the world stay on track to meeting these promises?” Here are some ways you can take action in the fight for climate justice: 

    Follow “on the ground” activists

    Ensuring the right voices are being heard is paramount to winning the race against climate change. Supporting activists that are doing the work through following and spotlighting their actions is something we can all do. Our Instagram post has highlighted various pages and activists who deserve attention and support. 

    Get active where you can

    Throughout history, social groups have created transformational change. Protests have played a vital role in laying the groundwork for systematic change. If you haven’t already, reach out to organizations in your area that host these rallies and find out how you can get involved 

    Sign petitions

    Signing petitions can be an effective way to raise awareness on climate issues and communicate public opinion to leaders and decisionmakers. Join millions of others in signing the emergency appeal for climate action! 

    Remind your leaders

    One of the most impactful ways of reminding the Canadian government about their climate and social promises is through your local MP – so take a minute out of your day and let them know about the issues you believe deserve greater attention. If emailing your MP seems a bit dauntingWWF has created an easy template to help you craft and send an email to newly elected officials. 


    Categories: Climate Change, Student Contributor, Sustainability

  • What Happened at COP26? The Summit in Review

    Blog Contributors: Alexandra Cotrufo and Madison Lepp

    A general view of the Action Hub is pictured during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 11, 2021.(Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

    The Earth is warming at an unprecedented rate due to anthropogenic activity, causing more extreme weather events than ever before in human history. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, human emissions and activities have caused almost 100% of the warming observed since 1950. Climate change affects us all, but developing countries are being affected at a disproportionate rate and many of the most vulnerable communities are also the least responsible for the impacts of climate change.  

    Many scientists and citizens from around the world argued that COP26 was our last chance to get the climate crisis under control. COP (Conference of the Parties) is a series of United Nations climate change conferences, which have been running since 1995. The 26th COP summit took place in Glasgow, Scotland and was attended by countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This year’s summit aimed to reach a national agreement on how to tackle the current environmental, social, and economic issues brought on by climate change.  

    The summit took place from October 31st – November 12th, 2021 and involved discussions and presentations from world leaders. COP26 goals included improved mitigation, adaptation, finances, and collaboration. In addition, the COP26 Green Zone was open to the public which hosted in-person and virtual events including art installations, film screenings, interactive discussions, and more. 

    Let’s look at some of the main changes and commitments that came out of the two-week-long conference. 

    Week One Round Up

    The first week of the COP26 summit brought signs of hope, but now the big promises made must be followed up with action. Indigenous activist Txai Suruí gave a powerful speech as part of the opening ceremony. Speaking on her experiences with climate change and calling for Indigenous communities to be at the center of decisions being made at the conference. Not only are Indigenous communities disproportionately affected by climate change, but their deep-rooted traditions hold the keys to invaluable knowledge that can safeguard our earth. 

    A World Leader’s Summit was held on Monday, November 1st and Tuesday, November 2nd. The following days focused on themes including Finance, Energy, Youth & Public empowerment, and Nature, with new initiatives being announced for each of these themes.  

    During the two-day World Leaders Summit, leaders gathered to kick start a decade of accelerated climate action. Notably, over 40 major coal-using countries, including Poland, South Korea, Ukraine, Indonesia, Vietnam, and – yes – Canada, joined the Breakthrough Agenda, agreeing to phase out their use of coal for electricity generation. Another big promise was made with over 100 leaders including Brazil, China, and Indonesia – representing over 85% of the world’s forests  endorsing the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests & Land Use to reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030. This deal has been criticized for mirroring the 2014 New York “declaration on forests to end deforestation by 2030” which has failed thus far to even halve tree clearance.  

    Genuine hope came from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who announced India’s pledge to target net-zero emissions by 2070. India is the world’s fourth biggest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, the US, and the EU, but its large population means its emissions per capita are much lower. The pledge was backed with nearer-term targets to generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources and reduce the economy’s carbon intensity by 45%. Although the target misses a key goal of the COP26 summit – for countries to commit to reach that target by 2051 – the target sent signals of strong hope and is in line with what many climate experts have modelled as the most feasible scenario for India to achieve net zero. 

    Another climate promise breakthrough was made on Finance DayRishi Sunak, one of UK’s MP’s, announced new rules to make it mandatory for big UK firms to show plans on how they will achieve their climate targets. Announcements on energy day held more hope as 25+ countries and finance institutions – including the US, Canada, and the European Investment Bank – signed a commitment to end fossil fuel investments and redirect them to clean technologies.  

    Week Two Round Up

    The second week at COP26 focused on themes including Adaptation, Loss and Damage, Gender, Science and Innovation, and Transportation. There were more financial promises made for developing countries as government leaders pushed for compensation for damage caused by climate change. According to the World Economic Forum, the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change called for $1.3 trillion of financial assistance per year from wealthy nations starting in 2025. In addition, the European Investment Bank and Allianz Global Investors made a promise on November 7th to raise 500 million euro for climate mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.  

    An impactful presentation from the second week involved the Tuvalu foreign Minister Simon Kofe standing knee-deep in sea water while giving a speech about how his island nation is at the forefront of climate change as sea levels continue to rise. Images of Minister Kofe were circulated widely on social media as they presented a visual representation of the harsh realities many small communities are faced with. This powerful moment demonstrated how immediate action is needed to protect our most vulnerable populations. 

    On November 10th, China and the United States – the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases – reached a joint commitment to make more of an effort to reduce emissions. This “Glasgow Declaration” was praised by many leaders at the conference, however, others felt it was simply not enough due to the lack of measurable targets set by both countries. That same day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a promise to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from some international shipping routes. In addition, Canada’s Transport Minister signed a pledge to make heavy trucks and buses emission-free over the next two decades. 

    In the final days of the summit, one theme was clear: fear of failure. Will delegates and leaders be able to keep the promises and the pledges they made over the last two weeks necessary to cut CO2 emissions? These questions remain unanswered, as a final agreement has not been reached by all countries on what next steps will be taken to avert further global warming.  

    Many activists have also been questioning the events, or lack thereof, that took place over the last two weeks. According to the Guardian, campaigners and civil society groups staged a walkout on the 12th day of the conference condemning legitimacy and lack of ambition. They created a People’s Declaration which outlines 10 demands of global northern countries to pay their climate debts for loss and damage. 

    Things to Keep in Mind

    Despite the conference’s efforts, space at the event was very limited. This required most delegates and journalists to watch COP26 from livestreams. Young activists from vulnerable countries have also noted that they were ignored by leaders and media coverage made a poor effort to voice their stories. Organized protests broke out through the weeks of the conference in the streets of Glasgow, calling on leaders to listen.  

    It’s also worth mentioning that there were more delegates at COP26 associated with the fossil fuel industry than from any single country. An analysis found that 503 delegates (of the 40,000) with links to fossil fuel interests had been accredited for the climate summit. If nations across the globe are serious about making change, fossil fuel lobbyists should not be welcome at COP summits. While COP26 was an important moment in our path toward tackling the climate crisis, the summit itself was likely to have emitted the equivalent of 102,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is double the amount emitted from the last climate summit. For reference, Canada has an annual average per capita footprint of 15.6 tons of carbon dioxide. This is a startling statistic that showcases how efforts to solve sustainability issues may actually be contributing to them. We hope more consideration is taken during the next summit to substantially reduce this number. 

    Concluding Thoughts

    COP26 has brought forward many ambitious agreements that will pave the way for much-needed climate action. Nonetheless, these agreements are only promises and past events have shown us that agreements are not always met. While the long-term promises made at COP26 are consistent with limiting warming below 2°C by 2100, the lack of near-term commitments is concerning. Unfortunately, long-term net-zero promises by countries are less likely to be met without tangible near-term commitments. And even if net-zero promises are met, we are still falling short of the Paris Agreement goal to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C. So far, the outcome of COP26 has proven to be disappointing with lots of talk and limited action. World leaders need to follow through with these agendas during this pivotal time in history. It’s time to put words into action.  


    Categories: Climate Change, Student Contributor, Sustainability

  • Climate Change in the Niagara Region

    Blog Contributor: Mikellena Nettos

    From increased weather events to melting polar regions, climate change impacts everyone (IPCC, 2019). According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2019) increases in global mean temperatures of less than 1 to 3 degrees Celsius above 1990 levels will cause drastic environmental changes, including benefits in certain areas and detriments in others. 

    When it comes to Canada, we can see a significant shift in the northern regions, with melting permafrost, changing biodiversity, completely altering ways of life for Indigenous Canadians (IPCC, 2019). In the southern regions, there will be more extreme heat events, especially in cities (CCCS, 2021). This will create a longer growing season and will cause a shift in what farmers decide to grow as winters will be short and wet, which will also leave less room for trees to rest between growing seasons (IPCC, 2019). This resting period is important for a tree’s metabolism to slow down, allowing for energy conservation to keep the tree alive in the cold winter months (Let’s Talk Science, 2020). 

    The region of Niagara will be impacted significantly as our economic growth is based on agriculture and tourism (The Corporation of the City of St. Catharines, 2014). The icewine industry will likely face unprecedented challenges with winter temperatures on the rise, decreasing economic value in certain areas (CCCS, 2021). In addition to this, there will be increased heat events that can cause heat stroke and heat exhaustion, which can potentially overwhelm hospitals, especially after what we have seen with COVID-19 (CCCS, 2021). 

    The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre is currently wrapping up a project with seven regional municipalities in Niagara who came together to collaborate on climate change adaptation through a partnership called Niagara Adapts. By working together, these municipal partners are discovering new ways to develop and  implement innovative solutions to combat flood events, windstorms, and heat waves in our region. According to a research survey produced through this partnership, approximately 55% of respondents have experienced community flooding and extreme heat – displaying the increased risk that residents here in the region already face. 

    As an individual, learning more about climate change in your region and advocating to municipal councils is a great way to promote climate adaptation within your community. Together we can become more resilient and adapt to this crisis we all face! 


    Canadian Centre for Climate Services of Environment and Climate Change Canada. (2018– 2021). Climate Data Canada [Climate Data by Geographic Location in Canada]. 

    City of Barrie. (2017). Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. Change-Adaptation-Strategy.pdf 


    Guide and Workbook for Municipal Climate Adaptation. 

    IPCC (2019). Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems [P.R. Shukla, J. Skea, E. Calvo Buendia, V. Masson-Delmotte, H.-O. Pörtner, D. C. Roberts, P. Zhai, R. Slade, S. Connors, R. van Diemen, M. Ferrat, E. Haughey, S. Luz, S. Neogi, M. Pathak, J. Petzold, J. Portugal Pereira, P. Vyas, E. Huntley, K. Kissick, M. Belkacemi, J. Malley, (eds.)]. In press. 

    Let’s Talk Science. (2020, March 16). How Do Trees Survive in Winter? 

    The Corporation of the City of St. Catharines. (2014). About Our City. St. Catharines. 

    Categories: Climate Change, Niagara, Student Contributor

  • Fighting the Climate Emergency

    Blog Contributor: Noah Nickel

    Each day it appears that the future of our planet seems to be more dire than the day before. While to some that might sound hyperbolic, for anyone following the news, they know this to be true. Day in and day out we hear about another animal being added to the endangered species list, another that has gone extinct entirely, and a plethora of scientific studies that say we have been underestimating the impact of the climate crisis on our environment.

    Additionally, we cannot ignore the recent flooding events that we have seen in our local region and throughout the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick, as they have prompted declarations of emergency throughout these provinces. This type of news seems to come up incredibly often, always increasing in regularity and in the severity of rhetoric, implicating our societies and their inability to effectively act on this issue.

    While our situation on earth appears to be reaching its final turning point before we are guaranteed a harsh fallout as a direct result of the ever-worsening climate crisis, this reality has seemingly struck a chord with a large swath of the general population, especially young people. Across Canada, the United States, and beyond, we have seen countless school walkouts, organized demonstrations, and even attempts at lobbying elected officials by high school and university students in an act to raise awareness for and force institutional action to address the climate crisis – something that has never been seen before on this scale.

    That is what makes me so excited about working with the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre here at Brock University, because I think young people are in an ideal position to bring about institutional change within their schools, their public institutions, and their governments to combat the climate crisis head on unlike ever before. I believe that the ESRC is in a unique position within this fight, as they possess the ability to organize events and influence individual decisions to live more sustainably, while also having the institutional, national, and even international connections to have a broader impact on large scale sustainability efforts. This means that they can affect not only individual actions, but our collective action and discourse regarding environmental sustainability and climate change.

    Regarding their individual and community impact, on International Women’s Day this past year, the ESRC, in collaboration with Facilities Management, hosted a Women in Sustainability panel event. The event touched on both the barriers that women in environmental sustainability face today as well as the amazing contributions they have and will continue to make in the field of environmental sustainability and in the fight against climate change.

    On an institutional level, the ESRC was instrumental in securing $7.9 million in funding from the Ontario government through the Greenhouse Gas Campus Retrofits Program to replace Brock’s co-generation engines that produce electricity and provide heating and cooling on campus. The replacement engines will reduce Brock’s annual nitrogen oxide gas emissions from 55 tonnes to just 8 tonnes and will consume 26% less fuel.

    I hope that through my time with the ESRC I am able to further engage my peers in issues of environmental sustainability and the fight against climate change, while also highlighting and contributing to the efforts that the ESRC makes on an institutional level at Brock, as well as on the national stage, to reduce harmful emissions, alter our wasteful practices, and ultimately shift our national discourse on the environment and climate change.

    It’s clear that the climate emergency has motivated a generation, and I believe that we must channel that energy into productive initiatives that will bring about the change that we as young people hope to see in the world. This isn’t simply a personal goal, it’s an international imperative, as our future truly does depend on our ability to act, and act quickly.

    Categories: Activism, Climate Change, Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Canadian Scholars get wide backing on climate change solutions

    TORONTO — Sustainable Canada Dialogues, a network of over 60 researchers from all provinces of Canada, today released a new compilation, Acting on Climate Change: Extending the Dialogue Among Canadians at University of Toronto’s Hart House. The compilation consists of 28 individual and group reports representing a spectrum of viewpoints including First Nations, business, non‐governmental organizations, labour and private citizens from across Canada. It is a unique document given the number and the diversity of the viewpoints proposing climate solutions for the country.

    Earlier this year, the organization released Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from Canadian Scholars, “a consensus on feasible solutions to help Canada transition to a low-carbon society and economy, beginning immediately.” The authors invited comments to expand the report, and over just a few months a new compilation evolved adding depth and breadth to Canada’s climate solutions agenda.

    “Extending the Dialogue Among Canadians shows Canada is brimming with ideas, possibilities and the will to act,” said UNESCO‐McGill Chair holder, Dr. Catherine Potvin, who spearheaded the initiative. “We released the new compilation at the height of the federal election campaign to help engage more Canadians in discussion of climate change as an essential issue for Canada’s future.”  Potvin said political candidates took notice, with representatives of four political parties confirming their intention to participate in the launch.

    “Throughout the federal election campaign, climate change discussions have centered on pricing carbon and restoring Canada’s image internationally. Sustainable Canada Dialogues found a variety of interesting climate action proposals in all federal party platforms—with the exception of Conservative—but found that ideas related to energy use are less developed than those related to energy production*.”  Potvin went on to say that energy use (such as in transportation and buildings) “… offers some of the best opportunities for win‐win solutions that could increase social well‐being while reducing emissions and increasing sustainability.”

    Acting on Climate Change: Extending the Dialogue Among Canadiansbroadens the vision of “the possible,” said Potvin. She explained the compilation shows that for Canadians, climate action is also about:

    • Fully engaging Nation to Nation with Indigenous peoples on renewable energy projects;
    • Creating the right conditions to invest in green businesses and stimulate innovation;
    • Supporting workers, especially those working in the fossil fuel industries, during the transition to a low carbon society and economy;
    • Building partnerships for local implementation, bearing in mind that Canadians desire supportive communities;
    • Reinventing cities and redefining transportation in terms of access;
    • Taking into account the perspectives of youth, who will live out the consequences of decisions made today.

    “We hope that Acting on Climate Change: Extending the Dialogue Among Canadians could become the seed of an inclusive, country‐wide consultation on the best way for Canada to transition towards a low-carbon, sustainable society and economy.”

    Beyond the federal election, Sustainable Canada Dialogues aims to provide input to the next government to ensure Canada is equipped to put its best face forward at the Paris Climate Conference just weeks away.

    Representing Brock University are Drs. Liette Vasseur and Gary Pickering (ESRC, Biological Sciences, and CCOVI). 

    To view the new compilation or individual contributions to Acting on Climate Change: Extending the Dialogue, go to:

    * See attached,‐sustainability‐solutions

    Categories: Climate Change, Sustainability