Climate justice advocates for a shift in the focus of dialogue on climate change away from economic imperatives and technical solutions, to protecting the human rights of those most vulnerable to its effects, both globally and locally.

Climate change causes disproportionate impacts on people. Youth, in particular, see the climate crisis as one of the defining challenges of their age, noting that continued fossil fuel expansion will lock in decades of greenhouse gas emissions, jeopardizing their human rights and future prospects. 

In response to the focus on climate justice as part of UBC’s Declaration of a Climate Emergency and recommendations from its Climate Emergency Task Force (CETF) Report the UBC Sustainability Initiative launched the Climate Justice Series, featuring sessions that examine climate justice from various perspectives, locally and globally.


Past Events

09/02/23 – Sue Big Oil: A Made-in-BC Climate Campaign

In July 2022, Vancouver city councillors voted 6-5 in support of a motion to set aside about $700,000 — roughly $1 per every Vancouver resident — to fund litigation against Canada’s biggest producers of oil and gas.

Join leaders from UBC, West Coast Environmental Law, and Vancouver City Council to find out what this means. With law professor Stepan Wood, activist Fiona Koza, lawyer Andrew Gage, PhD student Manvi Bhalla and Vancouver City Councillor Adriane Carr. Moderated by filmmaker and geography professor Avi Lewis.

Presented by the Department of Geography Climate Action Committee, Centre for Law and Environment, UBC Centre for Climate Justice, UBC Sustainability Hub, and West Coast Environmental Law.

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15/11/22 – COP27Live!

Join UBC student and faculty delegates on-the-ground at COP27 in conversation with CBC News climate journalist Lisa Johnson for an inside view of the negotiations, discussions, and emotions of the conference.

Learn about the topics closest to their hearts, the major issues and discussions as they see it, the commitments that have been made, and the work that needs to happen to make sure the planet stays livable.

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10/11/22 – UBC Reads Sustainability with Geoff Dembicki

Join climate investigative journalist and award winning author Geoff Dembicki live from Brooklyn for a conversation on his latest work, which draws from confidential oil industry documents to uncover how companies like Exxon, Koch Industries, and Shell built a global right-wing echo chamber to protect oil sands profits.

Moderated by Dr. Carol Liao, Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Business Law at UBC Allard School of Law, Principal Co-Investigator of the Canada Climate Law Initiative, and editor of Corporate Law and Sustainability from the Next Generation of Lawyers.

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21/04/22 – What can Mother Trees teach us about climate justice?

An Earth Week special on old growth forests and climate change featuring Mother Trees, climate litigation, and Indigenous knowledge. What lessons can we draw to advance climate justice? Join UBC Professor of Forest Ecology, Suzanne Simard, and the Executive Directors of Sierra Club BC and CPAWS-BC, in a discussion moderated by Dr. Danielle Ignace, Assistant Professor of Forestry.


  • Suzanne Simard, Professor of Forest Ecology, on 'Finding the Mother Tree'
  • Hannah Askew, Executive Director of Sierra Club BC, on ‘Climate Litigation as a Tool for Change.’
  • J Kevin Barlow (magtawe'g mui'n gagamig gwilmn n'pisun), Executive Director of CPAWS-BC (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, BC Chapter), on ‘Indigenous Knowledge is What We Need'

Moderated by Assistant Professor of Forestry, Dr. Danielle Ignace, Indigenous Natural Sciences, with a special Earth Week call to action from Flossie Baker, Lead Organizer, Sierra Club BC.

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22/03/22 – Ripples of Transformation

Indigenous climate scholars Daqualma (Joceyln Joe-Strack), Dr. Shandin Pete and Dr. Danielle Ignace share stories of reconnection and transformation.

The health and well-being of our planet is inherently linked to the availability of safe clean waters. And for Indigenous peoples, water has often been respected as a transformer: wielding the power to both harm and to heal. Many of the lessons for respecting the transformative power of water comes from stories, songs, prayers and ceremonies. These teach us ways for living and being in alignment with our more-than-human relations.

Like water, we each have the ability to harm and heal. As our planet’s waterways are at unprecedented risks from climate change, can we re-imagine the ways of being and relating to each other and our waters that transform conflict into growth? What are the stories of transformation that will support the creation of new (and re-newed) pathways for sustainability and climate justice?

Find out how the event unfolded...

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10/11/21 – COP26 Live

Following "What's at Stake?" UBC delegates share updates with live reports from COP 26 in Glasgow. Find out who was there, what was happening on the ground, and where climate action is headed next.

  • Eman Alsulaiti (Undergraduate Student, CENES – Modern European Studies)
  • Max Cohen (PhD Candidate, Geography
  • Kathy Harrison Professor (Department of Political Science)
  • Temitope Onifade (PhD Candidate, Peter A. Allard School of Law)
  • Rashid Sumaila (University Killam Professor and Canada Research Chair in Interdisciplinary Ocean and Fisheries Economics
  • Juvarya Veltkamp (Director Canada Climate Law Initiative, Peter A. Allard School of Law)
  • Tara Ivanochko (Associate Professor of Teaching, Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences; Academic Director, UBC Sustainability Initiative)

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27/10/21 – What's at Stake?

The UBC Sustainability Initiative, Sierra Club BC, and West Coast Environmental Law present ‘What’s at Stake?’ a deep dive into the world of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

  • Elizabeth May (Green Party of Canada)
  • Anjali Appadurai (Sierra Club BC) 
  • Rachel White (University of British Columbia) 
  • Andrew Gage (West Coast Environmental Law) 
  • Linda Nowlan (Senior Director, UBC Sustainability Initiative)

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15/10/21 – Climate Slamposium 

Learn more about amazing research students are doing across the UBC community that addresses and connects with the climate emergency through the creativity and community building tradition of slam poetry.


Anber Rana (she/her/hers), Andrea Hoff (she/her/hers), Atlanta-Marinna Grant (she/her/hers), Fiona Beaty (she/her/hers), Kevin Liang (He/Him), Lia Laureen Shultz (she/her/hers), Madison Stevens (she/her/hers), Manvi Bhalla (she/her/hers), Maren McBride (she/her/hers), Sadia Ishaq (she/her/hers), Simone Rawal (she/her/hers)

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Graphic facilitation

Andrea Hoff interpreted the presentations through her live artistic creation, using recycled newsprint paper and card stock with ink pens and Beam watercolour paints. (Anong Beam is an artist and curator from M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island/Mnidoo Mnising.) 

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09/04/21 – What is UBC's responsibility in relation to climate justice?

What role can and should UBC play as we strive for climate justice? Learn what climate justice means to our panelists and their perceptions on the role of UBC and postsecondary institutions in relation to climate justice.

  • Adriana Laurent (Project Administrator, UBC Climate Hub)
  • Charles Menzies (member of Gitxaała Nation; Professor, Department of Anthropology, UBC)
  • Jessica Dempsey (Associate Professor, Department of Geography, UBC)
  • Sharon Stein (Assistant Professor, Department of Education Studies, UBC)
  • Michelle Marcus (Environmental Sciences student; Former Climate Emergency Task Force Co-Chair; Climate Justice UBC divestment organizer)
  • Tara Ivanochko (Academic Director, UBC Sustainability Initiative; Associate Professor of Teaching, Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, UBC)

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23/03/21 – UBC Reads Sustainability with Sheila Watt-Cloutier

Environment, Culture and Human Rights Advocate and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Sheila Watt-Cloutier spoke about her book, The Right to Be Cold.

A culmination of Watt-Cloutier's regional, national, and international work over the last twenty-five years – she explored the parallels between safeguarding the Arctic and the survival of Inuit culture.

19/03/21 – From Grassroots to Government

Panelists share reflections on what climate justice means to them, and how they are building it into their work; the process of translating climate justice activism and advocacy into government action; and the role of citizens and social movements in bringing about climate justice focused government action.

  • Andrea Reimer (Former City Councillor and Deputy Mayor, City of Vancouver; Adjunct Professor of Practice at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, UBC)
  • Bowinn Ma (B.C. Minister of State for Infrastructure; MLA North Vancouver-Lonsdale)
  • Christine Boyle (City of Vancouver Councillor; United Church Minister)
  • Sara Muir Owen (PICS - Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions)

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11/03/21 – UBC Reads Sustainability with Amitav Ghosh

Are we deranged? The acclaimed Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh argues that future generations may well think so. Join Ghosh for an examination of our inability—at the level of literature, history, and politics—to grasp the scale and violence of climate change.

  • Amitav Ghosh (Author, The Great Derangement)
  • M. V. Ramana (Professor and Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA), UBC)
  • Tara Ivanochko (Academic Director, UBC Sustainability Initiative; Associate Professor of Teaching, Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, UBC)

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05/03/21 – “Just Is”≠ Justice

Countries and peoples that are least responsible for causing climate change are the ones suffering most from its effects. Learn about climate justice in Africa, climate justice as a threat to Indigenous sovereignty, BC’s oil tanker and pipeline projects and climate justice, and the global policy framework for acting on climate.

  • Eugene Kung (West Coast Environmental Law)
  • Kathryn Harrison (Professor of Political Science, UBC)
  • Temitope Onifade (Lawyer; International Doctoral Fellow and a Vanier Scholar at Allard Law School, UBC)
  • Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson (Artist; Counsel to the Haida Nation; Masters student, Allard Law School, UBC)

Linda Nowlan (Senior Director of the UBC Sustainability Initiative; Adjunct Professor in the Allard School of Law, UBC).

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*This virtual event was interrupted by an attendee posting racist commentary in the chat. The recording was edited to remove any reference to this incident in order to avoid providing a platform for racism. UBC condemns and denounces all incidents of anti-Black and anti-Asian racism and the continued racism and oppression that is directed at Indigenous communities.*