• MEOPAR Blog: The Pledge For Planting Two Billion Trees By 2030

    Planting two billion trees by 2030 will be a crucial step towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

    During the 2019 election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined teen activist Greta Thunberg at the Climate Strike in Montreal, where he promised that his Liberal government would plant two billion trees over the next 10 years. This pledge is a $3 billion effort to harness the power of nature to fight climate change and reach net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Net-zero GHG emissions are balanced by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.

    Adding two billion new trees could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by millions of tonnes annually. A hectare of mature trees, for example, can remove up to 6.4 tonnes of emissions per year from the atmosphere. This is the equivalent of driving 30,000 kilometres in a mid-sized car. The program would also help restore and protect our forests, grasslands, agricultural lands, wetlands and coastal natural areas, which help clean our air, safeguard our water, and provide crucial wildlife habitat. Along with the environmental benefits, the program may also help our economy. The federal government estimates that 3,500 seasonal tree planting jobs will be created to grow and plant the young trees.

    It is important to note that these new trees, which are promised to be planted by 2030, are not meant to replace trees that are cut down by timber companies or cities, but will add to the current tree count. There must also be careful planning, implementation and monitoring of this program to ensure we do not replace land that is already forested, or wetlands that are essential for water irrigation, flood prevention, and water filtration. Trees also need to be planted in places where they can survive and flourish. This means planting in geographically suitable areas as well as considering the future climatic conditions of those areas. Trees planted today will still be standing in 80 to 120 years, which means there needs to be consideration for how climate change will impact the future temperature and precipitation in the places where these trees are planted.

    You can learn more about this program on the Liberal Government’s website.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg and Sam Gauthier) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca.



    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog, Uncategorised

  • MEOPAR BLOG: Maladaptation: When Adaptation goes wrong.

    Overland flooding caused by a lack of road maintenance.

    In previous articles in this series, we discussed adapting and being resilient to the impacts of climate change. We have explained that we cannot continue to take a business as usual approach—we need to act. But what does take action actually mean? And what if we get it wrong?

    This can and does happen. Making the decision to adapt to climate change is important, but there can sometimes be unforeseen consequences of those adaptation efforts, such as increasing the vulnerability of ecosystems or communities. When this happens, it is called maladaptation.

    Maladaptation can begin as a positive adaptive measure with the best of intentions. It can also occur when climate change was not kept in mind during the development of a strategy or policy, or when taking certain actions or enacting management strategies.

    If climate change is not considered during the construction of a new bridge, for example, that bridge may be damaged or destroyed during a flood. Restrictions in tree planting can cause maladaptation, leading to fewer shady areas, warmer temperatures, and less buffering capacity against strong winds. Another example is a lack of ditch maintenance that amplifies damage during storm events.

    Certain behaviours can also be also maladaptive, like idling at a drive-through or while stuck in traffic for hours on the Queen Elizabeth Way.

    The way residents and communities deal with shoreline erosion can also cause maladaptation. Since moving houses is not always a viable measure, many instead opt for shoreline protection. Along a body of water like Lake Ontario, this battle is largely being fought on an individual or family scale–you do what you must in order to protect your property. But when this effort takes the shape of a hardened wall structure, this can have damaging long-term effects on both yours and your neighbours’ properties.

    So how do we avoid adaptive efforts from becoming maladaptive? Having the right voices at the table and thinking as long-term and holistically as possible is the best place to start. If the voices of many different interest groups, sectors, and neighbourhoods are heard, local climate adaptation measures are more likely to be successful.

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog, Uncategorised

  • Sustainable Development Goals: Youth Training, held at Brock’s Pond Inlet

    Close to 200 students from across Niagara learned about sparking change in the world during a
    training day hosted at Brock University by the United Nations on Saturday, Nov. 11.

    The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: Youth Training event brought attendees
    together at the campus’ Pond Inlet to address the root causes of poverty and increase awareness
    of local and global initiatives.

    The event was led by special guest Christian Courtis, Human Rights Officer, United Nations
    Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and gave youth practical training to
    develop a deeper understanding of sustainable development in the areas of health, economic
    growth, social inclusion and environmental protections.

    “The event was very well attended,” said Liette Vasseur, who was present at the event to speak
    about her work as the university’s United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
    Organization (UNESCO) chair. “They came and spent their whole Saturday learning what the 17
    Sustainable Development Goals, defined by the United Nations, are and
    understanding how the United Nations works.”

    Other presentations and collaborators of the event included: Ana Sanchez, Brock University,
    Chair, Department of Health Sciences (Moderator); Irene Podolak, Action Africa Help
    International and Brock University Health Sciences Adjunct Professor; James Reid, Director and
    Producer; Lillian Lincoln Foundation; Kathryn Baker-Reed, Skills for Change of Metro Toronto;
    Ben Brisbois, Healthier Cities and Communities Hub, Dalla Lana School of Public Health,
    University of Toronto; and Steven Lee, Executive Director of FES (Foundation for
    Environmental Stewardship) and its 3% Project.

    Vasseur shared the work she is doing with the UNESCO chair in the area of sustainable
    development (specifically in relation to climate change) in a panel discussion that afternoon.
    Drawing from her book, Adaptation to Coastal Storms in Atlantic Canada, she discussed the
    priorities and options available to coastal communities as they work to mitigate the effects of
    climate change and how successful initiatives in Atlantic Canada can be applied to other coastal
    communities such as Saint Barthélemy and Ecuador.

    The event finished with a screening of Reid’s documentary, Minutes to Die, Snakebite: The
    World’s Ignored Health Crisis. The film takes a deeper look at how snakebites are killing more
    than 500,000 people every year – many of which reside in rural areas and developing countries
    where access to hospitals and life-saving anti-venom is severely limited. It outlines the clear link
    between this health crisis and poverty, inequity, and social justice and what is being done to
    develop new, cost-effective treatments.

    Vasseur said she was inspired by the insight and enthusiasm of all of the youth attendees.

    “I think a lot of students were highly inspired by the event and I’m hoping there will be
    momentum on campus now as the students seem quite interested to contribute.”