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Climate of Change: Policies For a New Environmental Reality


November 21, 2015 at 1pm - 2:15pm


Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science, University of Alberta
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with Gwendolyn Blue and Jim Byrne

The reality of climate change is evident in our province today. Alberta needs new policies to deal with these new environmental realities. With access to great resources, will this province take the opportunity to become an environmental leader?

Beyond mitigation: Climate policy for a transforming Alberta

The newly elected NDP government in Alberta has made a laudable commitment to address climate change. But it has focused primarily on mitigation - reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While successful mitigation strategies are important, alone it is insufficient. Current policy conversation in Alberta misses attention to adaptation which is a matter of necessity and justice. The impacts of climate change are here and fall disproportionately on those who are least able to bear them. A more comprehensive political and public response to climate change must reach beyond mitigation and the climate-energy nexus. In part, this means that public funds and resources be allocated towards developing adaptive capacity in the face of ecological change, particularly for the most vulnerable among us.

Gwendolyn Blue is an associate professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Calgary.  Her research addresses the various publics that form around environmental issues, with a particular focus on climate change.

Alberta and Canada: The way forward on energy and climate change

Liberal and Conservative Canadian governments and Conservative Alberta governments have been complicit with the energy industry obfuscation of the regional and global environmental impacts of our fossil fuel projects for decades. Claims of energy superpower status and world class environmental monitoring of the oil sands were fallacious, at best.

The election of a different government in Alberta provides the national and global credibility and opportunity to address the environmental problems caused by fossil fuel developments in Alberta. The discussion will focus on the possible ways forward for Alberta to protect and diversify our economy, improve environmental protection and make meaningful commitments to address our huge per capita contributions to global greenhouse gases and climate change.

James Byrne is a professor at the University of Lethbridge and a specialist in global environmental change. Byrne is lead scientist and co-producer of a series of environmental documentaries and served as National Theme Leader in Water Resources Management on the Canadian Water Network Research Management Committee from 2001-04. In the last decade, he has led or convened a series of climate change meetings and sessions through the American Geophysical Union.