Fighting Climate Change: How Grass-Root Initiatives Drive Change

- From Student Strikes to the Extinction Rebellion

May 14th, 10:00 am (PT) - 7pm (GMT+2)

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This webinar and online discussion looks at responses to climate change as an increasingly pressing policy issue. With the view to the lack of decisive action from governments around the world, this webinar explores where effective action and policy initiatives could come from. From a transatlantic perspective, webinar participants will focus in particular on grass-roots and civic society initiatives in the politics of climate change.  

Detailed Information

There is growing urgency in addressing the global challenge of climate change: In October 2018 the world’s leading climate scientists of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned there is only a dozen years left for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C. The heightened risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people are already felt around the world. Among many observers there is a growing sense of desperation with regards to the gap between the fundamental threats associated with global warming and the lack of action at the necessary scale and magnitude. Most countries – Canada included – fall short of the targets set by the 2016 Paris Agreement and its commitment to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. 

This webinar will address where the leadership for effective action addressing climate change might come from. What are the actors and strategies to push for more decisive action in the global fight against global warming? In her presentation entitled ‘European Climate Policies: Grassroots Activism and Policy Change’, Miranda Schreurs (professor at the Technical University of Munich) will look at how grassroots pressures to address climate change are building in Europe. Fridays for Future, started by teenager Greta Thonburg with her school boycott initiative, has spread across European countries. Extinction Rebellion launched in October 2018 in the UK has branches in almost 50 countries worldwide. In May 2019, the British Cabinet declared a Climate Emergency. The city of Constance, Germany is the first German city to follow suit.  Despite a plan to shut down the last of Germany’s coal fired power plants by 2038, activists are calling politicians and business leaders to act sooner, faster, and with deeper carbon cuts. This presentation will consider the actions being taken in Germany and Europe to address climate change and the calls by environmentalists and concerned citizens to do more.

 Speakers Overview

Miranda Schreurs (PhD University of Michigan) is a Professor and Chair of Climate and Environmental Policy at the Bavarian School of Public Policy, Technical University of Munich. She investigates environmental movements, green politics, and climate policy making both comparatively and internationally. She has researched in Europe, the United States and Asia. She also specializes on the politics surrounding the disposal of highly radioactive waste. In 2011, Prof. Schreurs was appointed by Chancellor Angela Merkel as a member of the Ethics Committee for a Secure Energy Supply. In 2016, she was appointed by the German Bundestag as a member of a committee established to bring citizens’ voices and ensure greater transparency in the search for a disposal site for highly radioactive waste. She was a member of the German Council on the Environment (2008-2016) and is Vice Chair of the European Advisory Council on Environment and Sustainable Development. She was a Fulbright Fellow to Japan and Germany and spent three years studying at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She also worked as a professor of comparative politics at the University of Maryland. From 2007 to 2016 she was Director of the Environmental Policy Research Center and Professor of Comparative Policy at the Free University of Berlin.

Ben Isitt was first elected to City Council and the CRD Board in 2011 and re-elected in 2014 and 2018. He holds a PhD and an LLB and has taught history, international relations and labour studies at UVic, UBC and Simon Fraser University. An award-winning historian, author and community advocate, Ben has written several books that challenge how we think about BC politics and Canadian and global history, including From Victoria to Vladivostok: Canada's Siberian Expedition, 1917-19 (UBC Press) and Militant Minority: British Columbia Workers and the Rise of a New Left, 1948-1972(University of Toronto Press).

Ben Isitt's involvement in civic politics builds from his long-standing commitment to social justice and environmental protection. He has volunteered with residents and organizations on grassroots campaigns for worker rights, peace, Indigenous rights, the abolition of poverty and racism, and protecting our region's forests and farmlands from urban sprawl. Ben Isitt's research on housing, regional land use and public education builds on this community work. He combines professional and volunteer expertise with hands-on experience working with Victoria's street community as a former Housing Support Worker with the Victoria Cool Aid Society.

Please note, the Centre for Global Studies, will have a public showing of this webinar at the University of Victoria, in the Sedgewick Building, Room C168.  All are welcome to attend.


Hosted since 2005 at the University of Victoria, the project focuses on stimulating exchange on EU-Canada topics. With the support of the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet project of the European Union “Communication and Media Strategies for EU experts in Canada” and the Centre for Global Studies, the webinar series brings together experts in Canada with


Centre for Global Studies, PO Box 3050 STN CSC, Victoria, BC V2W 3P5 CANADA
(250) 721 7490