Alberta, Nunavut research to be featured at COP21

Alberta, Nunavut research to be featured at COP21
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May with Canadian filmmaker Mark Terry.Photo courtesy of Mark Terry.

Research taking place in Alberta’s oilsands has made it into a cool new tool designed for policy makers at the Conference of the Parties (COP21) climate conference in Paris.

Video vignettes profiling climate-related research around the globe, including a handful from northern Alberta and Nunavut, will be at the fingertips of world leaders hoping to have a new universally signed international agreement on climate law.

Canadian filmmaker Mark Terry has built trust with the people working on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and with members of the scientific community for the past six years. Every year since 2009, he has created a 45-minute documentary summarizing climate research highlights of the past year for COP attendees.

This year, a new GIS-based tool, Google’s Fusion, has allowed Terry to build a “multilinear documentary” with more than 50 of those vignettes pinned to the location where the research takes place on a Google map of the globe. Past COP attendees have only seen a fraction of what is available in the documentary.

“The great thing is it allows the policymakers to have a 10,000-foot view of climate research across the world,” Terry said. “They can see patterns we might not be able to see due to the proximity of space and place of these little red dots and the video report contained within each one. The UN is quite excited about this because instead of the cherry-picked information that’s in the documentary, which merely supplements the written text that the policy makers, frankly, have difficulty understanding because they’re written by scientists, the map gives them the opportunity to see 50 videos instead of, maybe, 10.”

The Youth Climate Report Video Map is posted on the websites of the UNFCCC and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). Each of the videos features a student interviewing a scientist about their research either in the field or at their office.

“I’m quite excited because of the enthusiasm of the UN,” Terry said. “When I told them I was thinking about doing it there was a long pause, then they said ‘this will be great, we’re going to have a lot more data available via video,’ which is the medium they keep telling me they prefer. Between the three of us, we have this new medium, that the policy makers tend to gravitate to, under control.”

Nick Nuttall, spokesperson for UNFCCC, said there is a “great need” to highlight the latest climate research and what youth involvement has taken place.
“The fact that youth – those who are among the least responsible for climate change and most affected by it – are presenting this research makes it even more compelling,” he said. “And the new map makes it easier than ever to explore the data. I encourage all leaders and global citizens to take a look.”

Each red dot on the map represents a video interview with a climate scientist.

Photo: Photo courtesy of Mark Terry

Each red dot on the map represents a video interview with a climate scientist.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and eight premiers will be at COP21, including Rachel Notley who just introduced Alberta’s climate change strategy. According to her itinerary Notley will meet with Canada’s ambassador to France, the CEO of the International Emissions Trading Association, officials of the World Economic Forum and representatives of Air Liquide.

“Alberta’s continued economic growth and access to new markets goes hand-in-hand with improving our international reputation by taking meaningful action on climate change,” she said in a release. “This is why I will be bringing our new Climate Leadership Plan forward at COP21. This is an important opportunity to show the international community exactly how Alberta is doing its part.”

Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips expects to attend the sub-national conference the week after, from Dec. 4-10. The cost for Notley and Phillips, four political staff, four public servants and three protection unit members is about $80,000 including carbon offsets purchased for each member of the delegation.

“Our new strategy sets out a clear plan to transition from coal to renewable electricity sources, puts a price on carbon and sets emissions limits for the oilsands,” she said. “I will highlight these actions in my meetings with international leaders, and I look forward to hearing their perspective on Alberta’s plan.”

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