Pivotal moment in our collective goal to limit global warming

Last September, Ian and Fiona from Hurricane highlighted what we already know: extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and severity. These events displaced approximately 30 million people worldwide in 2020, and this number is expected to increase in the coming decades due to climate change.

We are at a pivotal moment in our collective goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. The conversations, agreements and actions taken now will impact our collective immediate and long-term future. For this reason, the meeting of world leaders in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from November 6 to 18 for the negotiations on climate change at the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is more critical than ever. Leadership, citizen engagement and global attention are of the utmost importance to drive action.

The University of Waterloo, through the Waterloo Climate Institute, has been an official conference observer for many years. For COP27, the institute will send an in-person delegation of top student leaders and faculty researchers to represent the University, witness the negotiations, and foster an informed conversation about the climate crisis at Waterloo.

Dr. Zahid Butt, a professor in the School of Public Health Sciences, and Alexandra Ho, a master’s student in climate change, are currently in Sharm El Sheikh to observe the first week of the negotiations. Dr. Sarah Burch, Executive Director of the Waterloo Climate Institute, and Isra Saeed, PhD Candidate in Sustainability Management, will participate in the second week.

Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the Waterloo Climate Institute and the complexity of the climate crisis, delegates bring a range of expertise to the conference spanning the topics of health, governance, energy and communications. Their presence offers the entire Waterloo community a better understanding of the negotiation process and understanding of the key takeaways as the world comes together in Egypt to tackle the most pressing issue of our time.

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Teresa H. Sadler