Environmental Justice Research Fellowship 2019-2020

This year’s recipient of the Environmental Justice Research Fellowship is Anna Romaniszyn, a LLM candidate in Global Sustainability and Environmental Law at the University of Ottawa. Anna will be working on the climate justice case study. Anna obtained her first Master’s in Law at the Wroclaw University in Poland, where she focused mostly on health law and bioethics, as well as international and European law. As an exchange student, she spent a year at the Humboldt-University in Berlin. After graduation, she interned at the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights Office (Department of Constitutional, European and International Law) and later worked in private sector in the field of Polish-German cooperation.

At the University of Ottawa, Anna is conducting research on the intersection of climate change and human rights, with a special focus on climate change litigation. She also contributes to the work of the Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic and the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Ottawa. As the Environmental Justice Research Fellow, under the supervision of Professor Nathalie Chalifour, she will be looking into the concept of loss and damages in international law and its relationship with environmental justice and equity through the lens of climate change.

Congratulations, Anna!

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Carbon Pricing on Trial

The University of Ottawa’s Institute of the Environment will be hosting a panel on the constitutionality of Canada’s carbon pricing law, which Saskatchewan and Ontario have challenged. Three of the lawyers involved, including project member Nathalie Chalifour, who is acting as counsel for the United Chiefs of the Mnidoo Mnising, will discuss the recent hearing, the arguments and the implications of this landmark case.

The other panelists are:

  • Stewart Elgie, uOttawa Law professor, counsel for the Ecofiscal Commission

  • Josh Ginsberg, Director of the uOttawa-Ecojustice Law Clinic, counsel for David Suzuki Foundation


When: Wednesday, March 13, 11:30 AM – 1 PM
Where : Room 133, Fauteux Hall (Law Faculty), 57 Louis Pasteur, University of Ottawa

A light lunch will be served.

Twelve Years Left to Save the World!? Climate Change and the Future of Global Governance

Professor Nathalie Chalifour will be participating on a special panel on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report 15: “Global Warming of 1.5℃ , presented by the Centre for International Policy Studies on February 28, 2019 from 10:30am-12:00pm at FSS4007, 120 University Private, University of Ottawa.

In the wake of the IPCC’s recently-released Special Report 15: Global Warming of 1.5℃ there has been a flood of reports in the popular media featuring some iteration of the following headline: “We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN” (the latter from The Guardian, on October 8th, 2018). The report identifies the need for “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” in order to keep the world to within 1.5°C of warming from pre-industrial levels. CO2 emissions reduction curves in the report offer a stark visual of the drastic nature of behavioural change required of global civilization over the next number of years to limit the extent of damage to both human and natural systems.

Yet despite clearly laying out the scientific case for reducing CO2 emissions to net zero at some point in the next few decades, the report gives rise to a number of social, political and economic questions for policy-makers, climate policy researchers and concerned global citizens:

  • What is it exactly that global civilization has “twelve years left” to avert, and how ought we to confront this challenge in a just manner?

  • What are the broader implications for modern globalization – both from the climatic changes expected and from the human transformations required to mitigate global warming?

  • What role can or should global governance institutions play in fostering the types of systems transitions called for in the IPCC’s report?

  • And what happens if the GHG reduction targets suggested by the IPCC go unmet?

Chair and Moderator:

Dr. Ryan Katz-Rosene, Assistant Professor and CIPS Principal Researcher, University of Ottawa, and Co-President, Environmental Studies Association of Canada

Panelists:

Dr. Kirsten Zickfeld, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University (and one of Canada’s contributing authors to SR15), participating digitally, live from Vancouver

Dr. Prakash Kashwan, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science at the University of Connecticut, Storrs

Dr. Teresa Kramarz, Associate Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto; and Co-Director, Environmental Governance Lab

Dr. Nathalie Chalifour, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa; and Co-director, Centre for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability.

Why 'Frankenfoods' Need Feminism

Angela Lee will be giving a presentation on “Why ‘Frankenfoods’ Need Feminism” as part of Feminist Legal Studies Queen’s Speaker Series on March 1, 2019, from 1:00-2:30pm in room 202, Macdonald Hall, Queen’s University.

New food innovations are touted by some to be an indispensable part of the toolkit when it comes to feeding a growing population, especially when factoring in the growing appetite for animal products. To this end, technologies like genetically engineered (GE) animals and in vitro meat are currently in various stages of research and development, with proponents claiming a myriad of justificatory benefits. However, as the pejorative neologism "frankenfood" suggests, there has also been profound resistance against genetically modified foods and other kinds of technoscientific interventions in the realm of food and agriculture. As this polarized debate rages on within specialized circles as well as in the broader public discourse, global concerns about the state of food, agriculture, and hunger continue to proliferate.   

At this point, it seems apparent that technology has some role to play in any vision of a sustainable future. That being said, the exact contours of that role remain fluid, and feminist insights are particularly important in ensuring that technoscientific claims to neutrality are closely interrogated, especially when they run the risk of being uncritically assimilated by the law. This is because it is important to consider not only the technical attributes and promissory possibilities of new food innovations, but also the worldviews that are being imported in turn, as well as the unanticipated social and environmental consequences that could result.

In addition to critiquing dominant paradigms, an inclusive, intersectional ecofeminist perspective offers a different way of thinking about new food innovations, with the aim of exposing inherent biases, rejecting a view of institutions like science and law as being objective, and advancing methods and rationales for a more explicitly ethical form of decision-making. Alternative and marginalized perspectives are especially valuable in this context, because careful reflection on the range of concerns implicated by new food innovations is necessary in order to better evaluate whether or not they can contribute to the building of a more sustainable and just food system for all.

Are cows really killing the planet and what does law have to do with it?

PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO INCLEMENT WINTER WEATHER AND THE CLOSURE OF THE UNIVERSITY, THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED

On February 13, 2019, Don Buckingham, President and CEO of the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, will be presenting as part of the CELGS Environmental Law Speaker Series. His presentation is titled “Are cows really killing the planet and what does law have to do with it?”.

The event will take place from 11:30am-12:50pm at FTX 351.

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Extracting Environmental Justice: A Joint Panel Q&A

Professors Nathalie Chalifour and Heather McLeod-Kilmurray, along with their colleagues Salvador Herencia and Professors Penelope Simons and Aimée Craft will be participating in a joint panel Q&A on environmental justice on Thursday, February 7, 2019 from 11:30am - 1:00pm in FTX 137. The panel will engage in a critical dialogue on the harmful impacts of natural resource extraction on marginalized communities.

The event is co-hosted by the Indigenous Law Students Association, the Environmental Law Students Association, Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights (CLAIHR) uOttawa, and Level Justice.

All are welcome, and lunch will be provided! Please note that the event will be in English.

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Disrupting Dominant Discourses of Food Systems & Food Movements

Professor Heather McLeod-Kilmurray will be part of a panel discussion on “Disrupting Dominant Discourses of Food Systems & Food Movements”, hosted by the University of Windsor Faculty of Law on January 23, 2019 from 12:00pm-2:00pm.

This panel brings together academics and practitioners concerned with food law to discuss some issues on sustainable food sourcing, production, and circulation. What does sustainable mean? What is a food system? Who does it sustain and who is it sustained by? Some of the topics that will be discussed include Indigenous food sovereignty, urban agriculture in Detroit and local communities, migrant worker rights, and food law and policy in Canada more generally.

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Saskatchewan, Ontario and the constitutionality of a national carbon price

Professor Nathalie Chalifour has published a new op-ed in The Globe and Mail examining Saskatchewan and Ontario’s positions in relation to the federal carbon tax.

She points out that in general, the arguments presented by both provinces are weak, especially since many legal experts agree that Parliament is within its constitutional authority to implement a national carbon price under one or more subject matters. She also highlights some interesting aspects raised by both provincial governments.

She concludes that: “In the end, it looks as if Saskatchewan and Ontario’s complaints are not really about the Constitution, but reflect a politically motivated, foot-stomping show of their unwillingness to do their part in the national and global effort to reduce GHG emissions. The fact that Ontario Premier Doug Ford is turning to the courts for help, when he recently stated he would override a court decision with the notwithstanding clause because he did not agree with the outcome, speaks volumes. Perhaps the biggest irony of all is that the federal government opted to use a carbon price because it is the policy favoured by economists and conservatives because of its efficiency. Yet it is the conservative-led provinces that are making the most noise about it. Meanwhile, these outlier provinces have left Canadian climate policy fragmented and bogged down in costly lawsuits.”