$15.8 million awarded to six Waterloo research projects aimed at tackling climate change

Friday, November 25, 2022
Landscape of factories and their white cloud emissions.

The Government of Canada's Environmental Damages Fund, administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada, is allocating $15.8 million to six University of Waterloo research projects to identify solutions to environmental challenges. One of the projects is led by Waterloo biologist Dr. Laura Hug.

Funded through the Climate Action and Awareness Fund (CAAF), the research supports building sustainable net-zero emissions in Canada by 2050.

"Scientific research underpins everything we do to fight climate change. This funding provides critical support, allowing government and academia to collaborate to explore practical and achievable climate change solutions. By leveraging our unique expertise, we can foster collaboration across disciplines, sectors, communities, and research bodies," said the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

Mitigation of methane emission hot-spots from municipal landfills - Principal Investigator Laura Hug

Headshot of Laura Hug

Dr. Laura Hug is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology and holds the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Microbiology. Her research focuses on microbial diversity and function at contaminated sites and aims to develop solutions to address the impacts of human activities on the environment.

The project aims to improve methane emission monitoring at landfills by combining state-of-the-art soil measurements with a novel application of hyperspectral infrared imaging. The team will also develop methods to reduce emissions using methane-consuming microbes from landfill cover soils.

This project targets the large, poorly quantified emissions from Canadian landfills and provides information, tools, and methods for practical solutions.

"Our planned research has the potential to address one of the key methane mitigation gaps in Canada, landfill cover soil emissions," said Hug. "Our work aims to develop tools to both more accurately detect and monitor methane emissions from covered landfills, and to reduce methane emissions at the source by enhancing microbially mediated methane oxidation."

The co-investigators on the project are: Maria Strack (Geography), Kyle Daun (Engineering), Fereidoun Rezanezhad, Sherry Schiff (both Earth and Environmental Sciences) and Josh Neufeld (Biology). The external partners are Telops, Inc., Region of Waterloo and ECCC Waste Reduction and Management Division.

The research stemming from Waterloo's projects will advance and extend existing collaborations among stakeholders, including municipal and community organizations, academic and federal science partners, researchers and trainees, to support climate change innovation and knowledge transfer.

The other Waterloo projects funded by CAAF are:

"It's critical for us to be working toward net-zero," said Dr. Charmaine Dean, vice president, Research and International at the University of Waterloo. "Using established and emerging strengths in fundamental and applied research, Waterloo is pushing boundaries to accelerate the transition to a climate-resilient, low-carbon sustainable society, and advancing the sustainable use and management of space, land, water, and energy on a global scale."

Nationally, the CAAF funding was part of Minister Guilbeault's $58 million announcement for research projects that will advance science and technology to combat climate change.

Discovering solutions to environmental challenges impacting our world is a key priority at Waterloo. The launch of the Sustainable Futures Initiative aims to make the University of Waterloo a global leader in sustainability research, education and innovation to benefit the environment, economy, and society.