UVic researchers tackle grand climate challenge

Human and Social Development, Social Sciences, Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, Science

Advocates and experts convene in Glasgow, Scotland for the COP26 climate conference. Credit: Tempus.

A strong proponent of climate action, the University of Victoria signed an international carbon-emissions pledge to fight climate change and build a sustainable future. The Race to Zero (RtZ) is a global alliance dedicated to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, if not earlier. In signing the RtZ pledge, UVic joins 33 other Canadian universities and colleges, and more than 1,000 higher education institutions worldwide.

This pledge, signed ahead of the COP26 United Nations climate conference taking place in Glasgow from Oct. 31 to middle of November, is one of the many ways UVic demonstrates its commitment to climate action as aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Researchers here are at the forefront of initiatives aimed at assessing and addressing the climate crisis—from exploring methods of protecting habitat to sequestering carbon beneath the ocean floor to mobilizing financial markets.

View this COP26: Climate and environment experts advisory to learn more about UVic researchers and their work in climate, environmental change and sustainability.

A photo of black lava.
A photo of basalt (black lava) - 90 per cent of the Earth's basalt occurs on the ocean floor. Credit: ONC Handout 

Pumping carbon into rock deep beneath the ocean

Researchers with UVic-hosted and led Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions are exploring whether it’s possible to pump and store carbon dioxide (CO2) into sub-sea floor basalt to help bring down global atmospheric concentrations of the powerful greenhouse gas. The method would potentially sequester gigatons of CO2 under the sea floor—human activity adds around 51 gigatons to the atmosphere each year—and work toward the first COP26 goal to achieve global net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century.

Listen to this CBC Quirks & Quarks interview about the Solid Carbon project.

Nature-based solutions in the ocean

Canada has the world’s longest coastline with waves of opportunity for ocean-based climate solutions. Marine ecologist Julia Baum, a UVic President’s Chair and a member of the UVic delegation at COP26, is convening experts across disciplines to study the potential for blue carbon—the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems. 

aerial shot of rolling blue ocean waves
More than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface is water. Credit: olegbreslavtsev

Seeding global drylands data to combat climate change

Two billion people live in the world’s drylands and many of those spaces have been degraded due to climate change. But UVic restoration ecologist Nancy Shackelford is part of a team of researchers studying the potential of reseeding drylands with native plant species—the research covers 671 species at 174 sites across six continents—to protect and restore those lands.

Show me the money: investing in a low-carbon economy

Solutions to the climate crisis can be found in boardrooms and stock markets, says Basma Majerbi, a climate finance and impact investing expert at UVic’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business. Majerbi’s sustainable finance research explores the range of investment types that can drive meaningful change in this area—from G20 COVID-19 green stimulus packages to institutional investors role in climate risks and opportunities.

Photo of two Gustavson researchers stand in Finnerty Gardens.
Basma Majerbi, right, and Michael King, UVic associate professors and co-principal investigators of the Climate Finance project. The project partners are the Gustavson School of Business, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. Credit: UVic Photo Services

Read about The Climate Finance Project.

‘The harm we do to our planet is the harm we do to ourselves’

“We live in a global economy and what happens in one part of the world will affect what's happening to others in another part of the world,” says Heather Castleden, a professor in UVic’s School of Public Administration and the inaugural UVic Impact Chair in Transformative Governance for Planetary Health. An equitable energy transition needs to include collaborations across communities and international borders, and between public and private sectors.

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Keywords: climate, research, sustainability, administrative, environment, business, community

People: Basma Majerbi, Heather Castleden, Nancy Shackelford, PICS

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