Panel: Climate Action

The Toronto Science Policy Network’s second panel, Climate Action – We have 11 years to act, was held on March 7th 2019. The panel discussion was open to the University of Toronto community and the general public, and was generously sponsored by the Canadian Meteorological & Oceanographic Society (CMOS) and the University of Toronto’s School of the Environment.

The panel provided insights and facts about possible pathways – individually and collectively – to limit global warming to below 1.5°C by reducing GHG emissions. The focus was on the Canadian context to tackle climate change as an issue which will reshape our planet physically, economically and societally.

The panel was moderated by UTSC Assistant Professor Dan Weaver (atmospheric scientist & educator). Our panelists included:

  • Katie Sullivan (Managing Director, International Emission Trading Association)
  • Susan McGeachie (Global Director, Climate Change & Sustainability Services at Hatch)
  • Leila Durante (Chief Business Development Officer, Women in Renewable Energy)

The event began with a short presentation by our moderator Dan Weaver on the context of climate change and the urgency to act now. Read more about the context presented by the moderator here.

The introduction to the topic was followed by short presentations by each panelist and how their work relates to climate action. In brief, Katie Sullivan spoke about efforts to inform market solutions to address environmental challenges. Susan McGeachie focused on her work on environmental finance, and shared sustainability strategies to maximize positive social and environmental impacts. Finally, Leila Durante explained that WiRE Canada promotes a lower carbon intense future along with advancing the role and recognition of women in the energy sector.

Following the presentations, Dan Weaver led a moderated discussion. Read about the discussed topics, including carbon pricing, geoengineering, and infrastructure here.

The main messages of the evening are that there are no silver bullets to the climate problem, and we need all hands-on deck to address this critical issue. This will involve bringing everyone together, across all disciplines including the private, public sector, and academia, to together develop and design solutions and technologies to help us limit global warming and its effects on the planet. When it comes to the debate about carbon pricing, it needs to be kept in mind that the focus is on greenhouse gas reduction and not what the price on carbon is and our infrastructure projects of today need to be designed to be resilient in a changing climate. In addition, education and training needs to be adapted right now to ensure graduates leave educational institutions with the deep technical skills needed to develop and implement climate solutions.

In terms of individual action, the key messages were:

  • Get involved. Find out where you have influence. Collaborate & join an existing initiative or start an initiative – find partners to have your voice heard. 
  • Take action, be political and skip school or work to support the global #FridaysForFuture strike.

We still have a choice, but there is no time for delay.

In her closing remarks, TSPN executive Ellen Gute quoted Henk Ovink (Sherpa to the High Level Panel on Water, UN), stating that “we must dare to embrace that future in all its complexity, dare to understand and exploit for real change. It only requires the will to act and the guts to change. Too big? Not at all. Look past the obstructions for the opportunities!” [Henk Ovink, Too Big: Rebuild by Design’s Transformative Response to Climate Change: New Approaches To Climate]

TSPN would like to thank all our panelists for sharing their expertise with the University of Toronto community and the general public. We would also like to thank all our volunteers and our sponsors, who helped us to make this event possible.

For more resources on Climate Action please see our list here.

The TSPN Team