Speaker reflection: Exploring the changing relationship between politics, people and climate change.

This past Thursday, October 24th, several members from the UWCSD team took part in a special event held at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI) as part of their Signature Lecture Series. The weather was icy here in Uptown Waterloo yet the atmosphere indoors couldn’t have been more excited and later enthralled by the thoughts and lessons shared by our keynote, Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate and Culture at King’s College, London. His lecture, as the title suggests, took the audience of well over 100 through the public action (and inaction) over the past 25 years in a changing climate, both from an environmental and political context.

Personally, I learned a great deal about the realities of climate change and public response over my lifetime, and then some. It seems there have been repeated shifts closer and again farther from concrete action in addressing climate change as there have been increasingly global shifts in political interest, corporate power and “trends” in public life and economy. It seems to be difficult to reach global consensus, both due to antiquated global structures, economic interests and personal political gain…yet there are paradoxically “positive” reasons as well. Perhaps surprisingly, our increasing knowledge on how the climate behaves and evolves often works against the growing audience who receives and is expect to react and act to its forecasts. According to Mike Hulme, our diversity and cultural richness may prove to act as a hindrance to achieving global consensus yet simultaneously supporting a richness of ideas, collaboration and localized action. My mind is still swirling with ideas and inspiration to share with my colleagues and friends following this talk, as I’m left to form my own conclusions to how these different actors, concepts and behaviours can use their respective assets towards action at a global scale. Indeed, lots to think about!

But don’t take my word for it, you can enjoy the full lecture and Q&A session online, as it was live-streamed during the event. Be sure to leave a comment of your thoughts and pass to your friends if you find it’s a conversation worth sharing! Stay tuned for our next post, as we explore the discussions and outcomes of the Climate Change Workshop, hosted this past Friday and Saturday, at the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA), in partnership with the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and Interdisciplinary Climate Change Centre (IC3)!

Author: Rahul Mehta, Masters Candidate, School of Planning, University of Waterloo

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