Experts: COP 26 United Nations Climate Change Conference

Published: 1 November 2021

The twenty-sixth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be hosted by the United Kingdom, in partnership with Italy. The summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC. More than 190 world leaders will participate, along with tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens for twelve days of talks. (United Nations)

Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:

Christopher Barrington-Leigh, Associate Professor, Institute for Health and Social Policy and Bieler School of Environment

International negotiations should stop trying to legislate temperature or concentration and should instead focus on pricing carbon emissions. Not only are price agreements immediately actionable and visible but implementing prices domestically in developing economies would lead to a flood of profitable and beneficial foreign direct investment.”

Chris Barrington-Leigh is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Institute for Health and Social Policy and the Bieler School of Environment and an Associate Member in the Department of Economics. His research makes use of subjective well-being reports to address the relative importance of social and community-oriented aspects of life as compared with material consumption.

chris.barrington-leigh [at] (English, French)

Dror Etzion, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

Yet again, we are told that a COP meeting is ‘our last chance’ to maintain a safe climate. The longer we wait, the more ambitious our efforts must be. COP 26 must now initiate bold action like shutting down some fossil fuel extraction, investing massively in renewable energy, developing local economic hubs, and shutting off the flow of money from the financial industry to Big Oil. We have waited far too long, and we have left ourselves no wiggle room.”

Dror Etzion is an Associate Professor of Strategy and Organizations at the Desautels Faculty of Management and an Associate Member of the Bieler School of the Environment. His work suggests that managing for sustainability through local, open, emergent initiatives increases the recruitment of diverse stakeholders, fosters creativity, and yields impactful outcomes.

dror.etzion [at] (English, Hebrew)

Blane Harvey, Assistant Professor and William Dawson Scholar, Department of Integrated Studies in Education

Like the current COVID-19 pandemic, the current state of the climate crisis represents a failure of both equity and ambition. If we are to see meaningful steps towards a better future for our children and grandchildren, rich countries like Canada must take transformative action at home and abroad, particularly in the most vulnerable countries. This calls for increased investment into global cooperation, collective learning, and making space in both research and policy for the voices of people at the frontlines of this global challenge.”

Blane Harvey is an Assistant Professor and William Dawson Scholar in the Department of Integrated Studies and an Associate Member of the Bieler School of Environment. As an interdisciplinary scholar who works across the social and natural sciences, her research pertains to how climate change knowledge is produced, validated and communicated, and how facilitated learning and knowledge sharing can support action on climate change.

blane.harvey [at] (English, French)

Stephanie Leite, PhD Student, Department of Integrated Studies in Education

Youth have been pushing the conversation on climate action for years, through protests, strikes, and political lobbying—even before Greta Thunberg became a household name. School systems have been slow to respond to young people's growing concern about the state of the planet, but education can be a transformative force in these times of climate change. Instead of treating climate change as an add-on topic, educational institutions must engage learners in the modes of thinking needed to address this complex challenge and create space for youth to reimagine what it means to live in a climate-altered world.”

Stephanie Leite is a PhD student in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education. Her research interests include education for global citizenship, sustainable development, and climate change, with a focus on how the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be used to help define 21st-century learning.

stephanie.leite [at] (English)

Chandra Madramootoo, James McGill Professor, Department of Bioresource Engineering

There is an urgency at the COP 26 to have governments go beyond making commitments to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and to actually implement programs across all economic sectors that will actually halt rising global temperatures and sequester larger amounts of carbon in our soils and terrestrial landscapes. Drought, heat stress, forest fires, extreme weather events and sea level rise are severely affecting the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions in the developing world. This is driving large vulnerable populations further into poverty, food insecurity, and forced migrations. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed to by all member countries of the UN, is now in jeopardy of being achieved.”

Chandra Madramootoo is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Bioresource Engineering, where he leads the Water Innovation Lab. His areas of expertise include water management, irrigation, drainage, agricultural research and development, development of innovative technologies to predict crop water requirements, and impacts of water management practices on greenhouse gas emissions.

chandra.madramootoo [at] (English, French)

Nigel Roulet, James McGill Professor and Chair, Department of Geography

Though there is much excitement around the summit, I am not particularly optimistic that much will be accomplished. There will be many discussions and new or renewed agreements , but will they result in concrete actions? Neither government officials nor individuals take the problem of climate change seriously enough to significantly reduce our carbon footprint. This view may be pessimistic, but the evidence that we are taking the necessary steps is lacking.”

Nigel Roulet is a James McGill Professor of Biogeosciences and the Chair of the Department of Geography. His research interests focus on the interactions among hydrology, climatology, and ecosystems processes in peatlands and forested catchments of the temperate, boreal, and arctic regions.

nigel.roulet [at] (English)

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