COP Hack: Student Engagement

Are you interested in climate change action? Join us!

Our Mission: We are building momentum and garnering student interest in the United Nation’s annual Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP), and how we can Hack COPs to mobilize and elevate climate action.

You are invited to the inaugural COP Hack event! Join our discussion and explore how the international community negotiates and navigates climate change action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

This workshop offers students the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of climate justice perspectives on the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (UNFCCC COP) to be held in Glasgow, November 1-12, 2021 (COP26).  The workshop will examine the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples, of climate justice movements, especially in the Global South, and environmental justice movements from around the world as well as concepts and theories from research in political ecology, ecofeminism and environmental sociology on the COP process and the climate crisis. Students will be able to gain insight on what the COP process is, what it ought to be, and how students and their communities can engage with it.

This event is jointly hosted by the UofA Sustainability Council, KIAS Kule Scholars Program, Speculative Energy Futures, Parkland Institute, and the Energy Systems Signature Area.

Date: May 12th, 2021

Time: 1pm - 3:30pm

Location: Online and interactive

What is UNFCCC?  |  What is COP?

Open to high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students alike - everyone is affected, so everyone is invited. Interested in participating? More information will be available in the coming weeks - check back here soon.

Our Program

1:00 Introductions
1:15 Student Engagement Guest Speaker, Malaika Collette
1:30 Introduction to COP with Dr. Sourayan Mookerjea, “Indigenous, Global South and Eco-feminist Perspectives on COP"
2:00 Breakout Rooms
2:45 General Assembly, Summary, and Wrap-Up
Guest Speaker: Malaika Collette

Malaika Collette (she/her) is an 18 year old climate activist from Ontario, Canada. She has organized and lobbied governments and other levels of power at the municipal, national and international level. Most prominently she played a key role in organizing Mock COP26, an international, youth-run, virtual conference to fill the void of COP26 being postponed. The conference brought together 330 youth delegates from over 100 countries. She is currently working as a Campaign Coordinator for Mock COP26, where she is helping move forward the implementation of the Treaty in which the youth delegates created throughout the conference.

At COP Hack, Malaika will share her experience with political outreach and how other youth can connect with their elected officials at various levels to urge them to tackle climate change. She will also discuss her involvement in organizing Mock COP26, her current role as national Campaign Coordinator and her key takeaways for mobilizing students to advocate on issues of climate change.

Keynote Address: Dr. Sourayan Mookerjea

Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts, Department of Sociology 

Dr. Sourayan Mookerjea is director of the Intermedia Research Studio and Kule Scholar of Climate Resilience in the Department of Sociology, University of Alberta, in Treaty Six Territory where he specializes in intermedia research-creation, critical social theory, global sociology, and political ecology. His research addresses questions regarding the cultural and class politics of renewable energy transition, and critically engages with eco-feminist degrowth and commons theory. Current research projects examine how social and environmental justice theory and praxis can delink from the colonizer’s model of the world and the world-ecologies of racial capitalism. He is co-director of Feminist Energy Futures Powershift and Environmental Social Justice and iDoc: Intermedia and Documentary as well as a co-investigator on the research-creation collaboration, Speculative Energy Futures.

Breakout Sessions

Theme 1: The Growth Paradigm and Regenerative Degrowth

Indigenous Peoples, ecofeminists, environmental justice movements, especially those based in the Global South, along with political ecologists and environmental sociologists argue that to achieve climate and environmental justice, the COP process should be looking for ways to not only decarbonize the global economy but also to delink it from its current growth imperative. This growth imperative, they argue, is incapable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reversing biodiversity loss, deforestation, etc. while it relentlessly creates vast social inequality and poverty amid plenty.

This workshop theme then examines (1) what is meant by a growth economy and (2) why a unlimited growth economy cannot, by design, stop itself from undermining the safety and well being of human and nonhuman life, saturating the ecosystem with toxins and warming the atmosphere. We do so by considering COP26’s emphasis on so-called zero-emission vehicles, the problems this emphasis presents, especially from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples and environmental justice movements in the Global South, and the broader discussions and thinking going on around the world on the question of ground transportation.

Theme 2: Climate Finance and Ecological Debt  

Ever since the United States imposed the agenda item of establishing financial markets as the primary tool for addressing the climate crisis when the Kyoto Protocol was framed in 1997, negotiating the terms and conditions of how these “Kyoto mechanisms” could work has dominated COP discussions. The basic idea behind the Kyoto mechanisms is to create profitable opportunities that will direct financial investment into climate adaptation and mitigation activities and enterprises spurring innovation and scaling up green economy entrepreneurial initiatives.

However, Indigenous Peoples and environmental justice movements have strongly opposed this approach. They point to the fact that the operation of carbon markets, one form of climate finance, has resulted in land grabbing, dispossessing Indigenous Peoples and small farmers of their traditional lands. They also point out that the existence of carbon markets increases the commodification of the planetary ecology, accelerating its entropic transformations by increasing extraction and consumption. Political ecologists also observe that while carbon markets have now existed since 2005 and more than US$ 275 billion are now (2020) traded on them, GHG emissions have continued to rise.  In this theme we will take a closer look at these issues.

Theme 3: Regenerative Alternatives to Racial Capitalism and Colonialism 

Indigenous Peoples and environmental justice movements have long argued that the COP Process has been hijacked by corporations and international financial institutions and that those who are marginalized, exploited and sacrificed by the global economy, (often frontline communities most deeply affected by pollution and resource extraction) are also marginalized by the COP Process.  This theme examines the nature of this marginalization and examines how radically democratic alternatives to ongoing colonialism and racial capitalism are being invented by environmental and climate justice movements drawing on the commons, the social economy and the public sector.

Theme 4: Engineering and Technology for Adaptation and Mitigation

Effective engineering technologies for climate change must take into consideration both mitigation, to slow the rate of climate change, and adaptation, to adjust for the impacts of our changing environment. Engineering considerations can include the design, construction and maintenance of buildings for reducing green-house-gas emissions, or for withstanding severe weather changes, as well as the development and implementation of alternative energy sources. This theme will discuss the ways that scientists and engineers can contribute to the development and application of new technologies to respond to a “call to action” to address the underlying causes of climate change, and make our communities more resilient. 

More info: IEEE Engineers and Climate Change 

Theme 5: Student Engagement in Climate Education and Advocacy

Young climate activists have played a central role in educating and activating students around the world to demand real action by governments and institutions to address the climate crisis. What are the ways that students participating in this forum can get involved in advocacy within their schools, at the municipal, provincial and national levels? We will profile and discuss the work of different youth organizations that are engaged in effective advocacy as well look at how students can support the national lobby for the global Mock Cop Treaty declaration presented by Malaika Collette at the start of the forum.

More info:

Theme 6: Human Health and Wellness

Climate change is often framed as the biggest health challenge of the 21st century. How does climate change impact physical, emotional, and mental health? Are climate change impacts on health even on the government's radar? How can international climate negotiations address climate-health considerations? If COP26 is aimed at finalising the ‘Paris Rulebook’ (i.e. the rules needed to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement), how can a health and wellbeing framing advance climate action? This theme will grapple with these questions, with special attention to equity, cross-sector approaches, and lessons from the COVID pandemic.

Registrant Resources

Have you registered to partipate, and are ready to get started? To prepare for the workshop, each theme will have a folder of resources related to the discussion topic. Registrants are invited to supplement and participate in shaping the conversation! Upload and share additional resources you find that you'd like to include in the discussion. 

Registrant Access

Presented in collaboration by:


Indigenous Perspectives in Focus

In solidarity with Indigenous Peoples’ efforts to attain sovereignty and environmental justice, the organizing committee of COPhack invites you to spend sometime with the following important resources providing Indigenous Peoples perspectives on COP and other climate summits:

Indigenous Climate Action
Indigenous Frontline Community Statement on Climate Summit (2018)
Indigenous Environmental Network