Waterloo Students in Morocco for UN Climate Change Conference

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Five students from four Faculties join international delegates in Marrakech, Morocco for COP22; the COP of Action

Group shot of 4 students and 2 professors posing with trees in fall colors behind them#UWCOP22 Team (left to right): Kayla Hardie (SCI), Masroora Haque (Arts), Professor Brendon Larson (ENV), Bailey Jacobs (ENV), Professor Neil Craik (ENV), and Ambika Opal (ENG). Missing from photo: Hadi El-Shayeb (ENV).

As world leaders gather in Marrakech, Morocco next week for the 22nd Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) they will be joined by University of Waterloo students from the Faculties of Arts, Engineering, Environment and Science.

Faculty of Environment students have been engaged in the annual climate change conference as delegates and advocates since 2013, but this is the first time the delegation includes students with such a broad range of interests and backgrounds.

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s sustainability leaders,” says Dean of the Faculty of Environment, Jean Andrey. “This event will undoubtedly change the lives of participating students, who are enrolled in programs across four different Faculties; and they in turn will help to engage the University community in addressing the most pressing environmental issue facing humanity.  We look forward to following their story and engaging with them as it unfolds.”

Dubbed the “Action COP”, COP22 runs November 7-18 and follows on the heels of COP21 where the first universal and legally binding global climate deal was struck in Paris last December. As part of the historic deal, parties unanimously agreed to limit global climate change to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspirational goal of keeping it below 1.5°C. The Paris Agreement was officially ratified on October 4th when the threshold of 55 countries, representing at least 55% of global emissions, was reached. The Agreement will officially come into force on Friday, November 4, 2016, just days before the conference begins.

COP22 will be the first time the parties to the Paris Agreement will meet and negotiators will be looking at how to move forward on the enormous challenge of decarbonizing the global economy. Issues on the table for negotiation include adaptation, finance, transparency, technology transfer, mitigation, capacity building, and compensation for loss and damages.  


Young lady with blonde hair and brown jacket smiles with trees in the backgroundBailey Jacobs (4A Environment, Resources and Sustainability, Faculty of Environment) Follow on Twitter @Beeejacobs and Instagram @bailey.ann.jacobs

“One of the big topics I see coming up is focusing on one of our carbon outputs, specifically, residential carbon outputs,” says Bailey Jacobs, a 4th year School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability student who is researching government incentives for green energy and home retrofits. It’s a research interest born from personal experience when her family home was lost to fire and she found herself frustrated trying to implement sustainable alternatives in their rebuild. “I thought, why am I ten pages deep in a government website trying to find information that’s supposed to help us implement this technology?” One of her goals for the conference is to meet other researchers interested in renewable energy and retrofits, and in particular, how to make them more accessible for end users. “If we could reduce emissions from the residential sector by pushing more of these programs, working on the implementation uptake and with consumers on what kind of incentives they need, I think that would be a great inlet towards real action.”

Young man standing on stair case, smiling and looking up at the horizonHadi El-Shayeb (4A Planning, Faculty of Environment). Follow on Twitter @hadielshayeb

Hadi El-Shayeb is looking forward to observing how culture influences the climate change talks at COP22. It’s an area the 4th year School of Planning student became interested in while doing a planning design course on climate change adaptation in Tobago and Charlottetown, PEI. “Both islands suffer from climate change but in very different ways,” he says. In Tobago, the loss of coastal mangrove species to development is increasing tidal waves and decimating fish populations. Whereas in Charlottetown, the problem is inland flooding, caused by the abundance of hardspaces like parking lots. “I’m really passionate about tackling climate change from an ecological design perspective,” he explains, “but for effective governance, it needs to be approached at a local level.” And that, he says, requires an understanding of the communities and cultures involved.

This year’s delegation is being coordinated by UWaterloo’s Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change and Hadi is part of the team heading to Marrakech for the first week. He’ll be joined by Physics & Computer Science student Kayla Hardie, and Professor Neil Craik, Director of the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development. Bailey Jacobs is part of the week two team, which also includes Systems Design Engineering student Ambika Opal, Global Governance student Masroora Haque  and Professor Brendon Larson, Associate Dean Undergraduate for the Faculty of Environment. Global Governance student Dominique Souris, who was part of the COP21 team last year, will also be attending the conference as a accredited delegate with the Government of Seychelles through support from the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

Young lade with with glasses smiles in front of trees in fall colorsAmbika Opal (4A Systems Design Engineering, Faculty of Engineering)

Young lady with wooly grey scarf standing in front of trees and smiling Kayla Hardie (3A Physics, Faculty of Science) Follow on Twitter @kaylahardie7

Young lady with grey scarf looks over shoulder and smiles Masroora Haque (Global Governance, Faculty of Arts) Follow on Twitter @Masroora


Man with brown hair and striped shirt Brendon Larson (Associate Dean Undergraduate, Faculty of Environment) Follow on Twitter @brendonlarson

Man with grey hair and glasses, leaning against a treeNeil Craik (Director, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, Faculty of Environment) Follow on Twitter @ancraik

Young lade with dark hair, loking sideways and smilingDominque Souris (Global Governance, BSIA/Faculty of Environment) Follow on Twitter @dominiquesouris


While in Marrakech, the student delegation will act as ambassadors for the university, observing negotiations, attending events and listening to speakers, engaging with other delegates through meetings and conversations, and working with global youth and research groups that feed input into the official negotiation process. 

envwaterloo Snpachat codeFaculty of Environment Snapchat code (scan to follow)

The delegation will be sharing their experiences and key takeaways at a public panel talk when they return. You can also follow their journey live as it unfolds, either on social media using #UWCOP22, by attending one of two scheduled Skype calls with the team in Morocco, by following the Climate Students Blog, or by watching for Faculty of Environment Snapchat takeover (@envwaterloo), which runs November 7-18.

Engage in the COP22 conversation online or in-person by checking out the full list of social media accounts to follow and events you can attend on campus.

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