From the President's Desk: COP27 - 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference

The great challenge of our times: sustainable energy systems for the world.

Aerial view of the University of Alberta North Campus

A globally recognized powerhouse in energy research for many decades, University of Alberta researchers are leaping to respond to the new and urgent challenges facing the globe. And the time is now as the world's nations gather in Egypt this week at COP27, the United Nations climate change conference, to set ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions and drive the development of new and sustainable energy systems.

To highlight the U of A's position as a world leader in energy and climate research and teaching, and to continue to build on our extensive international research links, VP (Research and Innovation) Aminah Robinson Fayek and I will be attending COP27. Aminah and I are pleased to be joining other delegations from the City of Edmonton, the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada, sharing with the world the important work on climate action being done right here at home.

Representing the U of A and the Worldwide Universities Network (of which U of A is a longstanding member), I will participate in an international panel discussion about how university networks can advance research on sustainable energy systems and climate change.

Here at the University of Alberta, we are home to Canada's largest energy research cluster: Future Energy Systems involves 121 projects, 143 researchers, and more than 1,000 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows – multidisciplinary work to improve energy processes and reduce environmental impact – all supported with a $75 million investment from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund.

Our faculty and researchers are at the leading edge of discovering technologies to produce, store, transport and deliver cleaner, reliable energy sources in ways that drive us to net-zero emissions and help meet Canada's commitments to combating climate change. From generating cleaner fuels, such as hydrogen to carbon capture and its use and storage, our research activity is occurring across the entire continuum of energy systems.

We work together on energy solutions and climate change with an interdisciplinary approach, leveraging the collective power of the brightest minds to find solutions. Taking our research to the next level, our researchers aim to accelerate the development of low-carbon and net-zero energy sources for northern cold affected climates while increasing their resilience and addressing their impacts on climate change through a collaborative approach with other postsecondary institutions, industry partners, communities, non-profit organizations and government.

Building a strong future requires talent development and training the problem solvers and leaders of tomorrow to create a positive energy transition trajectory and find ways to sustain Earth's ecosystems. Our faculty inspire and create opportunities for students, postdoctoral fellows and other research specialists, the next generation, to lead with purpose.

The imperative and the opportunities are enormous.

And they are all around us.

The U of A is the northernmost institution in the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities, a strategic location at the gateway to Canada's north. Knowing the past can help us predict what's ahead. Ice cores provide a record of climate change, and our university is home to the Canadian Ice Core Lab. Melting ice caps and rising sea levels are a significant climate change concern, and much of what we know about Canada's arctic ice comes from U of A faculty, alumni and our valued partners.

The solutions being developed at the U of A resonate beyond our nation's borders. They are solutions with applications across the planet – because communities and countries everywhere face the same issues. Meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow is part of who we are as a university, spurred forward by our shared responsibility to build a better world for all.

Bill Flanagan
President & Vice-chancellor