Climate Week at UWindsor
While COVID-19 forced the world to concentrate on the global public health emergency, 2020 tied with 2016 as the hottest year on record. Despite a dip in 2020 carbon dioxide emissions caused by the pandemic, the United Nations; Environment Programme (UNEP)’s 2020 annual Emissions Gap Report warns that the world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century. And 5 years after signing onto the Paris Climate Agreement, countries still need to step up their climate plans to stand a chance to reach the Agreement’s goals and avoid the most dangerous climate impacts.
Much is discussed about global and national climate action, but cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy, account for more than 75% of global carbon dioxide emissions and are the most affected by climate impacts. Any effective response to climate change needs to include local action, and an all-of-community response.
The need for cutting-edge research on climate change cuts across all research disciplines and demands innovative, collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches to connect local action to national and international initiatives, and UWindsor is in a position to lead.
Please join us for a week of activities on climate action and research at the University of Windsor and with its community partners. From Monday to Friday, 22-26 February, noon hour events each day will focus on highlighting and supporting both institutional climate action and interdisciplinary research on climate change and climate action. Join us for any or all of these virtual events.
Researchers are encouraged to register to participate in as many of the roundtables as are relevant to their current or planned future research, and will be given 5 minutes each to describe their current or planned climate-related research or ideas for collaboration.
Monday 22 February: Welcome and Local Institution Climate Plans
Welcome: University of Windsor President Robert Gordon
Panel: President Gordon will be be joined by leaders and senior administrators from local public institutions on a panel discussion about institutional climate plans, including:
- Gary McNamara, Warden, County of Essex
- Janice Kaffer, CEO, Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital (HDGH)
- Kristin Kennedy, CEO, Erie Shores Healthcare
- Karina Richters, Climate Change Specialist, City of Windsor
- Joseph Picard, Director of Education, Conseil Scolaire Providence
- Joseph Ibrahim, Superintendant, Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB)
- Tania Jobin, Chair, Essex Region Conservation Authority
- Kathleen Quenneville, Energy & Environmental Officer, Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB)
Dr. Michael Siu, Vice-President of Research and Innovation, University of Windsor, will give brief remarks to introduce the week’s research sessions.
Tuesday 23 February: Research Roundtable – Healthy and Climate Resilient Windsor-Essex Watersheds
Co-hosted by the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) and the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER)
Natural areas and green space play a key role in assisting communities adapt and mitigate climate change, and offer a wealth of human health co-benefits including reduction of several chronic diseases and associated symptoms. The Essex Region Natural Heritage Systems Strategy (ERNHSS) is used to strategically direct ERCA’s programs and develop tools to assist provincial and municipal partners, private landowners, non-profit organizations and other stakeholders to protect, manage and enhance natural heritage protection of the region’s watersheds. This session will highlight existing technical data, and invite researchers to outline briefly any existing and future projects related to climate change in the context of the Windsor-Essex region’s natural heritage and watersheds.
Wednesday 24 February: Research Roundtable – Urban Sustainability and Healthy Cities
Hosted by the Windsor Law Centre for Cities
Cities and local communities are increasingly at the heart of climate mitigation policy and advocacy. In a 2020 speech, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that cities were “where the climate battle will largely be won or lost.” Health and environment, too, are closely linked through the social determinants of health and an increasing focus on equity in city-building. This session will use the frameworks of urban sustainability and healthy cities to focus on city-level research with a climate impact. The net will be cast widely to include a broad range of approaches and disciplines, including but not limited to: municipal climate policy and governance, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), public health and the social determinants of health, architecture and the built environment, land use planning and densification, infrastructure, community energy planning, active transportation and public transit, inclusion and environmental racism, public spaces and place-making, affordable and sustainable housing, the natural environment in cities, just recovery, advocacy in local climate movements and more. Researchers from any discipline working on related subjects are encouraged to participate.
Thursday 25 February: Research Roundtable – Windsor-Essex in Context: International and Transnational Climate Action
Hosted by the Windsor Law Transnational Environmental Law Clinic
The old mantra that ‘mitigation is global; adaptation is local’ has long been abandoned. There is now broad recognition of the great need to improve understanding and action on transboundary, regional and global climate impacts, or ‘borderless climate risks’, and how they influence climate outcomes at the local level. Political movements on climate likewise have developed at all levels from the local to the global. The IPCC is preparing a Special Report on Cities and Climate that seeks to clarify the potential governance, policy, and financial instruments to support mitigation and adaptation actions in urban areas. This session provides a space for discussion of climate research and policy initiatives from public, private, academic and civil society organisations that happen in the intersection of various territorial and governance scales, from the local to the global. Areas for discussion may include effects of global, regional and transboundary risks to Essex County, collaboration through multi-level governance initiatives in mitigation and adaptation (e.g. in the Great Lakes, US-Canada, Ontario-municipalities, internationally), climate justice, and climate action financing opportunities. Researchers working across a variety of disciplines from climate science to law and political science are encouraged to participate.
Friday 26 February: Collaborative Research and Funding for Climate-Related Research
This session will summarize the week’s events, including some trends and opportunities in climate-related research being conducted at the University of Windsor and with its community partners.
The UWindsor Office of Research Services will give a brief presentation on building collaborative research networks on climate, and available external research funding for such projects.
Climate Week at UWindsor is brought to you by the Windsor-Essex Climate Change Collaborative (WEC3), the Windsor Law Cities and Climate Action Forum (CCAF) policy clinic, and the Windsor Law Transnational Environmental Law Clinic (TELP), supported by the UWindsor Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation.
WEC3: A regional Climate Change Summit in 2018 resulted in the development of the Windsor Essex Climate Change Collaborative (WEC3) that brings together community leaders, experts, regional stakeholders, and community members to move towards a low-carbon economy and improve our resilience to our changing climate. The regional collaborative is intended to build on the foundational work of local communities.
CCAF: The Windsor Law Cities and Climate Action Forum (CCAF) policy clinic is housed at the Windsor Law Centre for Cities. It was founded in 2019 with a grant from the Climate Action Fund of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). CCAF is led by Windsor Law students working for academic credit. The Forum has a three-part mandate: public awareness-raising, capacity-building among youth and other community builders, and direct research support for municipalities on city-level climate policy action.
TELP: The Transnational Environmental Law and Policy Clinic (TELP) engages law students in projects related to environmental challenges that have a transboundary (Canada-US) or a transnational angle, meaning that these challenges require legal and policy interventions across municipal, provincial, national and international boundaries. Recognizing that racialized communities and other marginalized social groups disproportionately feel the effects of environmental impacts, TELP applies an environmental justice lens to identify and implement projects. TELP has adopted an expanded definition of environmental law to include work on Indigenous law, food law, climate law, energy law and all issues related to sustainability. TELP is currently offering a special Climate Litigation & Policy program, as part of Windsor Law’s growing attention to training the next generation of lawyers to be leaders on the most relevant socio-legal issues of our times, in light of the urgency of the climate challenge and the imperative to promote climate justice.