Yukon College calls on Trudeau and Obama to support the science needed to combat climate change

WHITEHORSE – Yukon College congratulates Prime Minister Trudeau and U.S. President Obama on their climate change agreement announced yesterday, and calls upon the Prime Minister to back it up with a commitment to fund the science needed for the Canadian and U.S. governments to make better decisions to combat climate change.

“We are happy to see the Prime Minister and President acknowledge the need to take a science-based approach to climate change and arctic development, and given how rapidly global warming is impacting the Yukon it is critical that the Government of Canada support research that is in the North, by the North and for the North,” said Dr. Karen Barnes, Yukon College President.

Last month, the Northern Climate ExChange at Yukon College released their first ever Climate Change Indicators Report which shows that the average Yukon temperature is rising at double the rate of southern Canada. Yukon’s annual average temperature has increased by 2° Celsius over the last 50 years with winters warming the most at 4°C over the last five decades.

The Northern Climate ExChange is focused on the research and science required to support climate change adaptation and the policy and community decisions that flow from the impacts to northern communities of rising global temperatures.

“We are working on the very science the Canadian and U.S. governments will need to make positive decisions on protecting Arctic land and water and managing oil and gas development in the North,” said Dr. Bronwyn Benkert, Northern Climate ExChange Manager.

Supporting Indigenous science and traditional knowledge

Yukon College President Karen Barnes also drew attention to the need for greater support for capacity building in Arctic Indigenous communities in order for Indigenous science and traditional knowledge to be more respectfully included in key decisions.

“It is a wonderful, progressive sentiment by the Prime Minister and President and northern Indigenious communities will need help building greater capacity in order to respond to all of the requests for information and consultation that such an agreement will bring forward,” said Barnes.

Building stronger research partnerships with Yukon First Nations governments to grow their capacity to participate and direct research taking place on their traditional territory is a long-term focus of Yukon College, added Barnes.

Northern Climate ExChange is one of seven key programs that operate under the Yukon Research Centre at Yukon College. The others include: Biodiversity Monitoring, Cold Climate Innovation, NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Mine Life Cycle, Resources, and Sustainable Development in the Arctic, Science Adventures, and Technology Innovation.