Discussions Focus on Implications of 2016 Marrakech UN Climate Negotiations at 4th Annual Willis and White Thought Leadership Event

Friday, December 16, 2016 12:55:09 PM

The School of the Environment's fourth annual Willis and White Thought Leadership Event on November 23, 2016 provided insight into the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dubbed COP22, that took place in Morocco this year.  The event, Update from the 2016 Marrakech UN Climate Negotiations: Conference Highlights & Considerations for Canada and the Provinces Under the Paris Agreement, included an expert panel on issues related to climate change, some of whom were part of the discussions at the UN conference in Morocco.  Two undergraduate scholarships were presented to exemplary students at the event, which was organized by the School's Environmental Finance Advisory Committee (EFAC) and hosted by Director Kimberly Strong.

School's Director Kimberly Strong at the podium beside the panel

Thought Leadership Event panellists Robert Page, Lisa DeMarco, Erik Haites, and Katie Sullivan, and host Kimberly Strong at the podium - Photo: Nathan Taylor

The panel consisted of international and Canadian climate policy and finance experts, some of whom were on the ground in Marrakech earlier in November for COP22 and the First Meeting of the Parties under the Paris Agreement (COP21) to combat climate change.  The panellists were:

  • Katie Sullivan (Director of The Americas & International Climate Finance, International Emissions Trading Association - IETA),
  • Lisa DeMarco (Partner, DeMarco Allan LLP),
  • Erik Haites (President, Margaree Consultants and Advisor to the UNFCCC),
  • Robert Page (IETA Fellow, Chair of the ISO 14000 international environmental standards board, and member of the Climate Action Group to the Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change), and
  • The Hon. Glen Murray (Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change).

Gray Taylor
(Counsel of the Climate Solutions Group and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the School of the Environment) moderated the discussion, as the speakers reported on developments from COP22 and their implications for Canada and Ontario, and shared their thoughts on the outlook for the Clean Power Plan, the Paris Agreement, and potential for cooperation and markets at home and abroad, given the outcome of the US election.  The panel proclaimed that Canada is making strides toward finding cooperative market-based solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. According to Minister Murray, an alliance with Quebec and California puts Ontario at the forefront of a new de-carbonized economy that will generate six times the economic expansion created during the information technology revolution.

Read more about the carbon alliances in U of T's Arts & Science News

Thought Leadership Moderator Gray Taylor at podiumPanellist Katie Sullivan at the podium
Panellist Lisa DeMarco at the podium
Panellist Erik Haites at the podiumPanellist Robert Page at the podiumPanelist Glen Murray at the podium
















(L-R): Thought Leadership Event moderator Gray Taylor, and panellists Katie Sullivan, Lisa DeMarco, Erik Haites, Robert Page, and Glen Murray - Photos: Nathan Taylor

The panel discussion was followed by the presentation of two scholarships established by family and friends to honour the memory of Errick "Skip" Willis and Rodney White, both former members of the School's Environmental Finance Advisory Committee (EFAC).  EFAC members Katie Sullivan and Sue McGeachie spoke about Skip and Rodney, their many accomplishments, and their dedication to education and mentoring.

The Skip Willis Undergraduate Scholarship is awarded for demonstrated passion for issues directly related to adaption and mitigation of climate change, including interest in the use of capital markets and carbon offset projects as solutions to the challenge of climate change.  This year's winner is Lika Miao, who is doing a major in Environmental Science and a minor in Environment and Energy, and is deeply engaged in issues related to adaptation and mitigation of climate change in Canada.  Lika was introduced by Kelly Willis, who presented the scholarship to her.

The Rodney White Environmental Studies Scholarship is awarded to a third-year undergraduate student studying topics related to environment and international development.  Keira Lewis is this year's recipient. Keira is pursuing a double major in Environmental Studies and Indigenous Studies, and has volunteered in Kenya and Ecuador, working with children to promote education and engagement on environmental issues.  Sue White introduced Keira and presented her with the scholarship. 

Skip Willis Undergraduate Scholarship winner Lika Miao with Kelly WillisRodney White Environmental Studies Scholarship winner Keira Lewis with Sue White









 Left panel: Skip Willis Undergraduate Scholarship winner Lika Miao with Kelly Willis
Right panel: Rodney White Environmental Studies Scholarship winner Keira Lewis with Sue White - Photos: Nathan Taylor

Proceeds from the evening are being distributed equally between the two scholarships.  The generous contributions of co-sponsors, the Ivey Foundation and Navigant also represent a significant addition to the scholarship funds.

The formal proceedings were followed by a reception at the Faculty Club attended by members of the business community, students, faculty, and members and friends of the Willis and White families.  The audience of more than 100 included graduate students in ENV1707, Environmental Finance and Sustainable Investing, who attended as part of their course.  This annual event continues to foster interaction and engagement between the School of the Environment and the wider community.

The Hon. Glen Murray and School of the Environment students

The Hon. Glen Murray, Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, with University of Toronto School of the Environment students at the 2016 Willis and White Thought Leadership Event at the Faculty Club on Nov. 23 - Photo: Nathan Taylor