issues and experts

UN Climate Change Conference in Paris

November 27, 2015

Updated December 2, 2015

Between Nov. 30 and Dec. 11, world leaders will convene in Paris, France for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP 21 or CMP 11. The expected outcome is a new international agreement on climate change, applicable to all, to keep global warming below 2°C.

The following SFU experts are available to offer comment and insight:

Kirsten Zickfeld, an SFU geography professor, is a climate scientist with a particular interest in human-induced climate change. She can comment on the implications of the actions agreed on in Paris for limiting global mean warming to below 2°C and for the climate in general.



SFU Public Square executive director Shauna Sylvester will be in Paris and writing a daily blog. She can speak to the role of cities in this UN Climate Change Conference and what is happening on the ground in the global movement to 100 per cent renewable cities. Sylvester attended the 2009 conference in Copenhagen, Denmark and will be able to provide some comparative analysis to Paris.


Brad Hornick is a PhD student in SFU’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology studying climate science and its relationship to political activism. He can comment on expectations for success/failure at COP 21, the latest climate science, the climate justice movement and the psycho-social implications of the threat of climate crisis.



Deborah Harford, executive director of SFU’s Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT), available to comment on all matters related to climate change adaptation and responses to climate change impacts concerning water, food, refugees, biodiversity, energy and sea level rise. She can also comment on the resilience of infrastructure, ecosystems and vulnerable populations.



Tim Takaro, an SFU health sciences professor, is available to comment on the health impacts of climate change.



Mark Jaccard is an SFU School of Resource and Environmental Management professor and internationally known high-level government advisor on climate policy.



SFU’s Faculty of Environment dean and professor Ingrid Stefanovic can comment on how values and perceptions affect public policy, planning and environmental decision-making. 



Jonn Axsen, an SFU School of Environmental Management professor, is available to talk about sustainable transportation. His research looks at what needs to happen for societies to transition to low carbon transportation systems. This includes the uptake of electric vehicle and other alternative fuel vehicle technologies. He says, “There are many policy lessons to learn from other leading regions such as Norway and California, but ultimately I am learning that a place like Canada or British Columbia needs to develop its own ‘home-grown’ policy strategy.”



Michael Small is the executive director of Renewable Cities, a program of SFU’s Centre for Dialogue. He is a former Canadian diplomat and international negotiator. Small can comment on the role cities are playing in the talks in Paris in terms of their leadership in national and global efforts to combat and adapt to climate change. He can also speak specifically to the global movement among certain leading cities, including Vancouver, to set ambitious targets to reach 100 per cent renewable energy in their energy plans.


Lionel Jackson is an adjunct professor in SFU’s Department of Earth Sciences. His research centres on the last several million years of earth's geologic history and climate.


SFU earth sciences professor Brent Ward’s research focuses on reconstructions of the Earth’s past climate over that last 2.6 million years (the Quaternary Period), specifically the last 200,000 years.

He says: “The fact that humans are having a significant effect on the Earth’s climate is backed up by science and the science is unassailable. There are many indicators of increased warming that have been documented: glaciers are retreating, tree lines and other species are shifting poleward and upward, temperatures are rising over the land and oceans, the ocean’s heat content has gone up, and sea level is rising. The cause is clear: increased carbon dioxide—a greenhouse gas whose warming properties have been known for over two centuries. Its present concentration is the highest for at least 800,000 years and likely longer.”



Stephanie Bertels is a professor in SFU’s Beedie School of Business and director of SFU’s Centre for Corporate Governance and Sustainability. She can comment on how global executives such as chief financial officers are factoring in climate risk.