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Cast your vote for the Art of Research

The public has until June 2 to vote for their favourite Queen's research photo in the People’s Choice category.

[Collage of photos with text: Art of Research photo contest]
A selection of Queen's research photos included in the People's Choice vote as part of the Art of Research photo contest.

Voting is now open for the People’s Choice prize in the annual Art of Research photo contest. The public is invited to cast their ballot and participate in promoting the diversity of research happening across Queen’s.

Hosted by the Office of the Vice-Principal (University Relations), the annual contest is an opportunity for Queen’s researchers to mobilize their research beyond the academy. The contest is aimed at providing a creative and accessible method of sharing the ground-breaking research being done by the Queen’s community and celebrating the global and social impact of this work.

Contest prizes

The 2022 contest has been reimagined through the lens of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to celebrate the impact of research in advancing these important global goals. Five new categories inspired by the SDGs were introduced for this year’s contest alongside the popular People’s Choice prize.

Images selected for voting in the People’s Choice are entries that generated discussion and were shortlisted by the adjudication committee.

All prizes come with a monetary prize of $250.

Cast your vote

The survey closes on June 2 at midnight. Winners of the 2022 Art of Research photo contest will be announced shortly following the vote.

To learn more about past contests, visit the Research@Queen’s website.

2022 Art of Research Adjudication Committee

  • Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research)
  • Kanonhsyonne - Janice Hill, Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation)
  • Nicholas Mosey, Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Arts and Science
  • Heidi Ploeg, QFEAS Chair for Women in Engineering, Mechanical and Materials Engineering
  • Ruth Dunley, Associate Director, Editorial Strategy, Office of Advancement
  • Jung-Ah Kim, PhD Student, Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies
  • Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, University Relations
  • Véronique St-Antoine, Communications Advisor, NSERC

Canada faces huge physical costs from climate change, making net zero a great investment

Reducing greenhouse gases is expensive, but it’s a great investment compared to the damage we can expect to the Canadian economy if the climate warms 5 C by 2100.

 

A family watches a wildfire from the safety of a ridge.
A family watches a wildfire from the safety of a ridge. (Unsplash/Caleb Cook)

There has been a lot of discussion in Canada lately about the financial costs of achieving the country’s climate targets. And rightly so. The situation is urgent and we need to act now.

Fighting climate change will require a concerted effort, affecting all sectors of the economy. And while there will be great economic opportunity and lots of new jobs in the green economy, there will be considerable disruptions in the workforce, major economic challenges and significant capital investment required.

However, we in the finance business like to look at both sides of the ledger. And when one considers the damage to the Canadian economy we can expect from fires, floods, melting ice caps and loss of biodiversity due to climate change, the investment in greenhouse gas reductions starts to look very worthwhile indeed.

Climate change impacts economic prosperity

In a new study we recently published with the Institute for Sustainable Finance, we posit that economic value is sacrificed every day that action is not taken to mitigate the economic and ecological risks posed by climate change. Existing economic models agree that losses are unavoidable without change and investment. But questions remained regarding how much value will be lost and how quickly.

Our study modelled the physical risk to Canada, or how much capital output might be lost, over various warming scenarios between now and the end of the century. We found that under a business-as-usual scenario, with no new international greenhouse gas mitigation measures taken, allowing the climate to warm 5 C by 2100, the cumulative cost to Canada would be $5.5 trillion.

That’s a big number. And it’s a lot higher than the damage we would see under a scenario where global warming is kept to 2 C, which we estimate to be around $2.8 trillion.

Of course, this is just the financial cost and does not take into account the suffering of those who will lose livelihoods, homes and businesses, or even their lives, due to climate-related disasters.

Our study further reveals that the associated costs of physical damage are larger than the investments required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the difference is up to $45.4 billion larger than the required investment. And this doesn’t even consider the potential economic benefits of transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

Yes, it is true that Canada can’t fight climate change on its own, and that it’s a global effort. But the incentive is clear for a rich, developed, industrialized country like Canada to take a global leadership role and meet our own net-zero targets.

A worker installs solar panels on the roof of a house.
A worker installs solar panels on the roof of a house. (Unsplash/Bill Mead)

Quick action is crucial

There is also a big incentive to act now, as we will face some inflection points in the coming decades that will make the challenge considerably more difficult.

Our study found that the costs of climate change damage are expected to grow gradually until 2050, around which time there is a sharp increase under all scenarios. By 2070 there is an exponential increase in damages. These dates correspond to two of the significant target dates for achieving net zero noted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its reports.

Despite the recent increased attention to addressing climate change, progress has been too slow. It is becoming clear that we are not on pace to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. Estimates from the IPCC and others suggest that with current progress, and if the world meets its existing commitments, we are more on pace for a 3 C warming scenario. There is a very real risk that warming will be higher still.

This is all bad news for Canada, which is highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and is warming at twice the rate of the global average. But until now, we haven’t had an effective assessment of the physical risks and the potential capital cost to Canada.

We have much to lose. And it should now be clear that tackling climate change more than pays for itself in terms of avoided physical damage alone.The Conversation

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Neal Willcott, PhD Candidate - Finance, Queen's University and Sean Cleary, BMO Professor of Finance, Queen's University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Transforming the global academy

Principal Patrick Deane on how the SDGs are helping break down silos, provoke dialogue, and unite us all in a common global purpose.

[Photo of Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane]
Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen's University

This op-ed was originally published in the Times Higher Education supplement in 2021.

As a member of the international group tasked with updating the Magna Charta Universitatum – the declaration of university freedoms and principles that was first signed in Bologna in 1988 – I am struck by the extent to which the intervening three decades have altered the global consensus about the nature and function of universities. Where the original document spoke eloquently to the fundamental values of the academy, the new Magna Charta Universitatum 2020 reaffirms those values but also expands upon their social function and utility. I would summarise the shift this way: we have moved from an understanding of universities as defined primarily by their ability to transcend historical contingency to a more complicated view, which asserts that timeless principles such as academic freedom and institutional autonomy are the platform from which the academy must engage with history.

If the situation in Europe and around the world in 1988 made it important to speak up for the freedoms without which teaching and research would be impoverished, by 2020 it had become equally important to speak of the responsibilities incumbent on institutions by virtue of the privileges accorded to them. The reality of rapid climate change has brought urgency and authority to this new view of universities, as have parallel trends in the social, cultural, and political climate, and “education for sustainable development” has emerged as the increasingly dominant model for global higher education – one which fuses the concerns of environment, society, and economy.  

Recent columns in Times Higher Education have admirably described the diverse ways in which the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been intrinsic to this reorientation of the global academy: as a rallying point for students and staff, as an accountability framework, and as a global language for political action, for example. Here at Queen’s University, the SDGs have been an important frame for our current planning process, and in all of those ways have influenced the manner in which we understand and wish to articulate our mission.

At one point in the process, an influential and valued friend of the university expressed some irritation to me about the way in which the SDGs had come to dominate and disrupt the university’s normally untroubled and inwardly-focused dialogue with itself about mission and values. “And in any case,” came the throwaway dismissal, “there’s nothing original or new about aligning with the SDGs.” Of course, that is true in 2021, but is it relevant? If a university is able to maximise its global impact, does the inherent originality or novelty of its planning parameters matter? In such exchanges – still occurring, I’m certain, on campuses everywhere – we can see that the changing consensus about which I wrote at the start is not yet complete.

It seems to me, in fact, that much of the value of the SDGs as an organising framework for universities resides in their not being proprietary or “original” to one institution, or to an exclusive group of institutions. It has often been pointed out that they now provide a shared language which helps universities in diverse geographical, political, and socio-economic locations understand and build upon the commonality of their work in both teaching and research. Adoption of the SDGs, however variously that is done from institution to institution, is turning the “global academy” from a rhetorical to a real construct, and I can’t imagine why it would be in the interests of any university to hold itself aloof from that transformation. Having watched our planning process unfold at Queen’s over the last two years, I can confirm that what the SDGs do at the global level, they do also at the level of the individual institution, providing a common language that provokes and sustains dialogue – not only between disciplines, but between the academic and non-academic parts of the operation.

I want to end by commenting on the excitement generated when siloes are broken open and when people and units understand how they are united with others in a common purpose and in service to the greater good. To cultivate that understanding has been the primary objective of planning at Queen’s for the last two years, and preparing our first submission to the Impact Rankings has been an intrinsic part of that process of learning and self-discovery. Naturally, we are delighted and excited by where we find ourselves in the rankings, but we are energised in a more profound way by the knowledge of what synergies and collaborations exist or appear possible both within our university and in the global academy.

The first 16 SDGs point to the areas in which we want to have impact. The 17th tells us what the whole project is really all about: acting in community for the communal good.

 

Queen’s secures second consecutive top 10 position globally in Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

Queen’s places 7th in international rankings out of over 1,500 institutions in advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

[7th in the world - 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings]

Capturing 7th position globally, Queen’s is ranked in the top 10 of the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings for the second year in a row. The rankings measure the actions universities are taking to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) both within and beyond their local communities. This 2022 international competition saw participation from over 1,500 post-secondary institutions (up from 1,240 in 2021).

Created in 2019, the THE Impact Rankings are the only international assessment to evaluate how universities’ programs and initiatives align with the SDGs. This set of 17 wide-ranging goals is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a universal call to protect the planet and its people.

"I am incredibly proud of the Queen’s community for this repeat stellar performance," says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University. "The ranking recognizes the sustained impact we are having in our local and global communities, but also serves to inspire future action fueled by our collective intellectual curiosity, passion to achieve, and commitment to collaboration – key to our mission and values."

Using calibrated metrics and indicators across four key areas – research, teaching, outreach, and stewardship – the rankings assess hundreds of data points and qualitative evidence that tangibly measure the impact of higher education institutions in addressing urgent global challenges. Since its inaugural year in 2019, participation in the THE Rankings has increased from 450 institutions to 1,500 participating institutions across 110 countries in 2022. This includes 400 first-time ranked institutions and 24 Canadian universities.

"The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings are unique in examining universities’ impact on society, through each of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals," says Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer, Times Higher Education. "Canada is one of the outstanding performers in this ranking, with ten universities in the world top 50 – and it is great to see Queen’s among Canada’s leading institutions, making the world top 10 and excelling in its contribution to SDG 1, and SDG 11, and SDG 16, in particular. It is important to be able to identify and celebrate the work universities do to make the world a better place."

Queen’s performance

Queen’s results once again reflect the cross-university collaboration and partnership of dozens of units across faculties, portfolios, and departments. Highlights from the 2022 rankings include:

  • Queen’s was ranked across all 17 SDGs
  • 2nd worldwide for SDG 1: 'No Poverty.' Queen’s strong performance acknowledged the Commitment Scholars program, which provides financial support for students who are members of underserved or underrepresented groups and who have demonstrated leadership in, and commitment to, racial justice, social justice, or diversity initiatives, and Swipe it Forward, a peer-to-peer program that facilitates the donation of meals to students facing food insecurity
  • 3rd worldwide for SDG 11: 'Sustainable Cities and Communities.' Queen’s supports public access to green spaces, including self-guided tours of the university’s Snodgrass Arboretum, free trail access at Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre, and the castle gardens at the Bader International Study Centre in the UK. State-of-the-art cultural facilities – including the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre – showcase world-class performing arts and collections to the community
  • 2nd worldwide for SDG 16: 'Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.' In addition to significant collaboration with all levels of government and training the next generation of policy makers though the School of Policy Studies, Queen’s supports academic freedom and is a member of the Scholars at Risk program, which arranges temporary research and teaching positions for scholars whose lives, freedom and well-being are under threat
  • Queen’s ranked in the top 100 of 12/17 SDGs and in the top 30 of 8/17 SDGs

Evidence of impact

[Report Cover - Queen’s contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals Advancing social impact | 2020-2021]
Read the report: Queen's contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Advancing social impact | 2020-2021 [PDF Report 13 KB]

More than 600 pieces of quantitative and qualitative evidence looked at Queen’s research, teaching, outreach, and stewardship and included:

  • Queen’s partnership with the Karta Initiative to provide educational opportunities to low-income youth from rural India
  • The new Queen’s Institute for Global and Population Health, created to boost research, education, service, and collaborative projects that will help advance and decolonize global health systems
  • Black Youth in STEM, an outreach program engaging Black elementary students in science, technology, engineering, and math programming through fun, hands-on activities in a Black-positive space
  • Leanpath Spark, a program to measure food waste and foster education and inspire action in Queen’s dining halls
  • A new Campus Map focused on accessibility to assists campus visitors in navigating Queen’s buildings and accessible routes, entrances, washrooms, and more
  • The Queen’s University Biological Station, one of Canada’s premier scientific field stations dedicated to environmental and conservation research and outreach
  • Supporting and connecting women of all ages through the Ban Righ Centre, dedicated to diversity and community building
  • Queen’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and meeting its goal for a 35 per cent reduction in emissions between 2008 to 2020
  • A website and report created to illustrate Queen’s commitment to the SDGs and showcase programs and initiatives that address some of the world’s most pressing challenges

The Queen's University’s community of exceptional students, researchers, staff, and alumni all contribute to making a positive contribution to social impact and sustainability. For more information on the THE Impact Rankings and how the university is contributing to the SDGs, visit the Advancing Social Impact website.

[Illustration of Queen's campus and collaborations]

The cultural sector needs support in order to benefit from a digital remake

A man records a Concert with his phone
The pandemic shifted many concerts, events and performances online. (Unsplash/John Mark Arnold)

The COVID-19 crisis has dealt a massive blow to the cultural and creative sectors in Canada and around the world. The impact was broad and deep.

In 2020, museums were closed for an average of more than 155 days, and in 2021, many of them had to shut their doors again, resulting in a 70 per cent drop in attendance.

The film industry, which relies heavily on box office revenue, has seen most theatrical releases cancelled or delayed. The crisis shook the book publishing industry, putting smaller publishers at risk and delaying the launch of several new books and literary works. Music festivals, concerts and plays were forced online, delayed or cancelled and many artists had to find other work.

When these sectors hurt, Canada hurts.

Creative industries have long been one of the leading drivers of innovation and economic growth in this country, making up almost three per cent of the GDP. By promoting social inclusion and social capital, the cultural sector is a key contributor to well-being as well. Our culture drives our identity as community and as country.

Just above survival level

The pandemic has exposed the structural fragility of the businesses and people foundational to supporting the cultural and creative sectors.

For the most part, these are small businesses, non-profit organizations like art centres, fairs, festivals, museums or theaters and independent artists and creative professionals like writers, painters or musicians — many who are operating just above survival level.

The pandemic has removed their main sources of revenue but has not diminished their costs of creation. If they go under, they may never recover. This would create a long-lasting dent in the production of cultural content in Canada.

Even though the federal and provincial governments have implemented support policies for organizations and professionals affected by the pandemic, the measures have not adapted to the new reality.

Supports also appear to be poorly targeted and fail to account for the medium- and long-term impact of digital transformation on how we produce and consume cultural products and experiences.

For many arts institutions and creative professionals, continued survival and relevance will hinge on how well they can transition from in-person to digital. Doing so will build their resilience to face future shocks and offer an economical pathway to reach larger audiences.

Supply and demand

In the near future, emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality have the potential to fuel new types of cultural experiences that can be marketed not only to large audiences but also to new audiences who were not consuming the cultural content before.

In economic terms, digitalization has affected both the demand and supply for cultural content. Thanks to increasingly sophisticated technology and the adoption of digital devices to experience things remote because of the pandemic, consumers have developed a taste for new ways to “tour” museums, “attend” theatre and participate in book readings.

For culture producers, this has forced them to re-imagine not only what and how they create but also their business methods, distribution channels, advertising and funding.

Digitalization of cultural experiences

The digitalization of cultural experiences takes many shapes and forms: musicians streaming concerts when live concerts aren’t possible, museums providing online tours or online book releases with authors reading from their homes.

The pandemic forced cultural producers to think about how they might transition the delivery of their cultural content from in-person to digital in ways that wouldn’t diminish the experience of cultural consumers.

Digitalization has affected competition as well, in cross-cutting ways. It has lowered the cost of starting a new culture-based enterprises, which should spur competition. But it has also led to greater concentration among those who are able to adapt to the digital world, adding to the decade-long trend of increased market concentration in cinemas, radio, television and the press.

Greater market concentration usually leads to higher prices and poorer quality, with serious long-term consequences for access and diversity of content — that is the most worrisome.

Access to culture and the guarantee of respect to one’s culture are not only rights explicitly recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and promoted by the United Nations and UNESCO, but they are quintessential to our identity as a community and country.

Policy interventions

Given the importance of access to culture, public policy interventions must aim to support the digitalization of cultural experiences as one way to help face the uncertainty of the future.

Even in stable times, governments have struggled to adapt their policies to the nontraditional business models that mark the cultural sector. That needs to change.

The form of measures and aid provided can vary but two objectives must be prioritized.

One, the aid must help to guarantee the survival of companies and organizations, employees and artists who make access to culture possible. Cultural producers — particularly those that are small and independent — will need help to build their digital skills.

And two, looking to the future, the aid must be competition-neutral — business and organizations must not be favoured over others — to ensure lively innovation by new entrants. If necessary, anti-competition law should be applied to avoid abusive practices that reduce access to culture.

With the fulfilment of both conditions, we can emerge from this crisis a culturally stronger and more forward-looking and resilient country than before.The Conversation

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Ricard Gil, Associate Professor, Smith School of Business, Queen's University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Erik Siksna named U SPORTS Top 8 Academic All-Canadian

Erik Siksna, Queen's Gaels volleyball player
Gaels men's volleyball team member Erik Siksna has been named a U SPORTS Top 8 Academic All-Canadian for the 2021-22 season, marking the third straight year a Queen’s student-athlete has been recognized with the award.

Erik Siksna, a member of the Queen's men's volleyball team, has been named a U SPORTS Top 8 Academic All-Canadian for the 2021-22 season.

Siksna, a third-year student in the Smith School of Business commerce program, was also named an Academic All-Canadian for the second time earlier this season.

“This award is a tremendous honour. To be recognized among the many outstanding student-athletes and Academic All-Canadians is truly special,” Siksna says. “I have always worked to prioritize both my athletics and academics, so this recognition is especially meaningful. With that being said, there is no doubt that my success wouldn’t be possible without the unwavering support from my teammates, coaches, and the university, which I am extremely grateful for.”

This marks the third year in a row that a Queen’s student-athlete has been named a Top 8 Academic All-Canadian, with Sophie de Goede (Women’s rugby and basketball) receiving the award in 2020-21, and Slater Doggett (Men’s hockey) in 2019-20. Overall, Siksna is the seventh Queen’s Gael to be recognized.

The Governor General’s Academic All-Canadian Commendation was founded by former Governor General of Canada David Johnston, who first honoured Canada’s Top 8 student-athletes in 2013. To achieve this award student-athletes must maintain an average of 80 per cent or better over the academic year while competing for one – or more – of their university’s varsity teams. Among these outstanding individuals, one female and one male student-athlete from each of the four U SPORTS conferences are selected annually to make up the Top 8. 

Siksna, an outside hitter for the Gaels, was named the OUA East Division Most Valuable Player for the 2021-22 season as well as a First Team OUA East Division All-Star.

“Erik Siksna has been one of our top student-athletes since his arrival on campus. He was named Rookie of the Year for Queen’s, the OUA, and U SPORTS in 2019 before competing with Team Canada at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship this past summer,” says Leslie Dal Cin, Executive Director, Athletics & Recreation. “A natural leader and impact player on the court, Erik also excels in the classroom as a perpetual Academic All Canadian. Erik will continue to accomplish great things during his time at Queen’s, and serve as a fantastic example of what we celebrate in U SPORTS student-athletes.”

Off the court, Siksna volunteers as an assistant coach of a high school volleyball team, and helping mentor other student-athletes as a Gaels tutor.

In the classroom, Siksna is a two-time Academic All-Canadian and holds a 4.1 GPA and was a recipient of the Queen's University Excellent Scholarship for entering with an average above 90 per cent.

“It takes a special type of student-athlete to excel at the level Erik has been able to in just his first years both on and off the court. His calm, cool and collected demeaner has allowed him to manage the stress of both a heavy commerce work load as well as the big playoff moments,” says Gabriel deGroot, Head Coach of the Gaels men's volleyball team. “Erik’s success comes with little surprise when considering the time, effort and dedication he puts into every detail of his life.”

Visit the U SPORTS website for more information on this year’s Top 8 Academic All-Canadians.

Why gasoline prices have soared to record highs

Gasoline pump fuels a car
Some motorists are willing to pay more for the price of gas. Others are considering trading in gas-guzzling cars for more efficient vehicles. (Unsplash/Dawn McDonald)

Canadians are finally returning to the office after two years of pandemic restrictions, and they’re are making March Break and summer travel plans. They are also being confronted by record-high gasoline prices at the pumps, leaving them wondering: Why is gasoline so expensive? How long will they stay this way? What can be done?

There are obvious and not-so-obvious answers to these difficult questions. The key driver of gasoline prices is the price of a barrel of oil and, like other commodities, oil prices are driven by the dynamics of supply and demand. Right now, supply is very tight.

During the pandemic, oil use plummeted and then slowly recovered. It is only now reaching pre-pandemic levels. In response to that demand plunge, companies mothballed new exploration projects and reduced the production of current ones, cutting supply drastically.

As economic recovery began, companies could not easily ramp up production. Yet prices remained low for most of that period. Moreover, oil wells are not water faucets: they take time to increase production. They also need the money and social license to do so, and both have been lacking of late.

The recent history of oil production

One problem is the increasing political risk of boosting production. Over the past several years, most governments have placed large policy emphasis on addressing the problem of climate change. Central to their efforts are reducing oil use and production and making continued use more expensive. This raises the required return on investment projects, making some new sources uneconomic.

Second, banks, equity investors and other capital providers have become less willing to fund oil and gas projects. They increasingly insist on improved environmental, social and governance performance (ESG) from the companies they invest in.

Some abstain from the oil and gas sector completely: no matter how well an oil company scores on the S and the G categories of ESG, they often score poorly on the E because of the nature of the industry. Consequently, capital acquisition is hard.

Third, regulatory risk — the risk that a regulation change will alter an industry — inhibits more oil and gas investment. Canada’s continuous saga of pipeline development is a case in point. Presidents Obama, Trump and Biden have each reversed their predecessor’s position on the Keystone pipeline.

Other pipeline and oil and gas projects in Canada have been delayed or made more expensive by protracted negotiations, more rigorous environmental reviews and political obstacles.

Regulatory risk is also present internationally. In the United States, President Biden cancelled the Keystone pipeline and has outlawed new drilling leases on federal land. Norway’s Equinor has pledged to decrease its production of hydrocarbons. All of this has made increasing oil production difficult, and contributed to a supply crunch.

Geopolitics and gas prices

Adding to the supply crunch is the second component of high oil prices — a geopolitical crisis in a significant oil-producing area.

Russia is among the world’s top oil and gas producers, habitually ranking in the top three. It supplies Europe with 27 per cent of its oil and 40 per cent of its natural gas.

Many European countries remain dependent on oil and gas for heating, transport and industrial production, and the war in Ukraine has helped expose that reality.

The invasion has generated shock, fear, and outrage. Public condemnation has been almost universal. Economic sanctions on Russia have been powerful and announced with great fanfare. But the flow of Russian oil and gas has not yet stopped. Despite plans to accelerate cuts to fossil fuel use, Europe still needs oil and gas.

The invasion has brought an uncomfortable reality into bold relief. Efforts to reduce carbon consumption have strengthened the geopolitical hand of many oil producing countries.

Of the world’s top 10 oil producers, only three are democracies. They remain overwhelmingly dependent on oil and gas revenue and are unencumbered by political, regulatory and capital constraints.

The less oil other sources produce, the more they can produce, often at fear-induced elevated prices that generate a revenue bonanza.

Electric vehicle charger
Dependence on oil influences foreign policy. As more alternative energy sources come online, they could alter the future of geopolitics. (Unsplash/Chuttersnap)

What can be done?

What can be done to reduce prices and vulnerability? In the short term, a more diverse supply.

President Biden has released oil from the strategic petroleum reserves, repeatedly called on the OPEC cartel to increase production and is even making overtures to Venezuela.

These will help bring prices down. But these are hardly the measures you would want to base your energy security on.

Fortunately, there are promising signs of relief at the gas pump. The market will do its work — high gas prices will motivate more production, eventually bringing gas prices down.

Yet bubbling underneath will be the ongoing process of energy transition. As other energy sources grow in importance, calibrating the needed oil supply to demand will be even more difficult. Prices will come down, but they will be volatile: consumers should brace for unpredictable gas prices to become the norm.

The longer term answer acknowledges reality. The world will need oil and natural gas for decades yet. Alternative energy sources — wind, solar, more natural gas and nuclear — can reduce that dependence, but will not eliminate it — at least not for a decade or more. The problem of being dependent on oil and gas imports will remain, particularly for Europe.

Oil prices are cyclic, volatile and based on a combination of supply, demand and geopolitical forces. Winston Churchill famously noted that security in oil supply lay in variety, and variety alone. Extending his lesson, cultivating a variety of carbon and non-carbon energy sources is the best way to reduce price volatility and energy vulnerability. It is a lesson we are relearning now.The Conversation

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David Detomasi, Associate Professor, Distinguished Faculty Fellow In International Business, Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Queen’s experts weigh in on the Russian invasion of Ukraine

As the world watches the rapidly evolving situation, researchers help us understand the roots of the conflict and the different factors at play.

Over the past month, a range of Queen’s research experts have been focused on the escalating crisis between Russia and Ukraine, which has now become a full-scale military conflict. Featured in local, national, and international media, their voices have helped us in understanding the history between the two countries, how this war will be fought and financed, as well as the role sanctions against Russia may play in bringing it to an end.

Here’s a selection of Queen’s experts in major media outlets that are contributing to the fast-moving discussions taking place around the world.

Why Russia is invading Ukraine

Stéfanie von Hlatky (Political Studies)

It has been a few generations since a war of this scale has broken out in Europe. To help support parents and teachers in having important conversations with children about the crisis, Stéfanie von Hlatky collaborated with CBC to create a special online resource for CBC Kids News. In it, Dr. von Hlatky, who is an expert in military alliances and cooperation, breaks down the three main reasons why Russia has invaded Ukraine.

“One reason that Russia is invading Ukraine is because as Russia has struggled since the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO has continued to grow, and Putin sees that as a threat.”

Dr. von Hlatky said Russia sees Ukraine as being historically and culturally part of Russia.

“Putin, who is nearing the end of his political career, may be trying to distract from all the problems happening in Russia, such as the toll the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on the economy.”

CBC Kids News: https://www.cbc.ca/kidsnews/post/russia-declared-war-on-ukraine.-heres-why

Misinformation

Principal’s statement
Principal Patrick Deane has shared a message of solidarity with universities in Ukraine on behalf of Queen's. In his message to the Queen’s community, he highlights the important role institutes of higher learning must play in supporting democracy in all parts of the world.

Christian Leuprecht (Policy Studies)

The war may be on the other side of the Atlantic, but in our interconnected world, Russia's efforts to spread misinformation will easily find their way to Canadian viewers. Christian Leuprecht, an expert on security and defence and political demography, talks to CBC News about how Canadians need to be wary of falling for fake reports as Russian disinformation campaigns are expected.

“The average Canadian should be concerned about disinformation, misinformation and information laundering, all of which the Russians are actively propagating,” he says. “Many people continue to work from home, so that makes them inadvertent conduits for bad actors to try to infiltrate corporations… So every Canadian in a way has a role to play here. ”

CBC News: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/cyber-russia-cse-1.6362878

Oil and gas

Thomas Hughes (Political Studies)

The war in Ukraine is having an impact on consumers here in Canada and around the world.  Thomas Hughes, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Queen’s University who has researched the political effects of military exercises in Europe, talks to Global News about how Canadians will likely see an increase in the price of oil and gas. Russia is one of the world’s leading exporters of oil on the international market.

“Of primary concern for Ontario is Russian oil export,” he says. “The reality is, we are going to see a deficit in oil and gas. It is going to be a challenge for Russia. The extent of that, to be confirmed.”

Global News: https://globalnews.ca/video/8647643/russian-ukrainian-wars-local-economic-impact/

David Detomasi (Smith School of Business)

Countries around the world have a strong reliance on Russian oil and gas, and many are wondering whether U.S. production can instead help meet the demand. David Detomasi, an expert in the geopolitics of oil, explains to the Spokesman-Review why calls for the U.S. to boost oil and gas production and impose sanctions on Russian fossil fuel exports face challenges. Dr. Detomasi says the idea that the U.S. could transport enough gas to Europe, which would be limited to transportation on ships, to substantially relieve its dependency on Russia is not plausible at this time.

Dr. Detomasi says the Ukraine crisis should be a wake-up call for the United States and its allies that a tight energy market gives countries like Russia leverage they can exert to get their way, perhaps even in war.

“It is a stark reminder of how dependent the world remains on oil and natural gas… The more we have robust, ethically produced oil and natural gas in the world, the less folks like Putin and others can play this geopolitical card.”

The Spokesman-Review: https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2022/feb/27/northwest-republicans-call-on-biden-to-boost-us-oi/

Cryptocurrency and crowdfunding

Erica Pimentel (Smith School of Business)

Earlier in February, there were reports of Ukrainian NGOs and volunteer groups embracing cryptocurrencies to help fund the defence of their country in anticipation of a war. Erica Pimentel, who has researched the challenges in auditing blockchain based assets, explains to Today U.K. News how cryptocurrency provides an alternative to traditional fundraising platforms.

“Social movements will eventually raise money through blockchain-based crowdfunding platforms,” she says. “I think that, going forward, using decentralized forms of financing that are difficult for governments to interfere with will become the norm.”

Today UK News: https://todayuknews.com/crypto-currency/bitcoin-at-the-barricades-ottawa-ukraine-and-beyond/

Canada’s sanctions on Russia

Christian Leuprecht (Policy Studies)

Canada has imposed some sanctions on Russia, but many believe there is more to be done. Christian Leuprecht wrote an op-ed for the National Post that examines how Canada is enabling Russia by opposing pipelines and protecting money launderers. Dr. Leuprecht writes that the federal government’s sanctions against Russia are largely performative because Canada’s relations with Russia are already so limited.

“If Canada’s federal government were to adopt Australian-style foreign interference legislation and U.K.-style Unexplained Wealth Orders, it could actually start to go after dirty Russian money that has long sloshed around in Toronto’s real estate markets.” 

“Canada has ample supply of natural gas to liquify and export. Yet, Canada lags way behind in that game because it naively has no sense for geopolitics. Make no mistake: Canadians who oppose construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia, and pipeline capacity to enable liquified natural gas exports from Canada’s East Coast to Europe, are aiding, abetting, and condoning Putin’s behaviour.”

National Post: https://nationalpost.com/opinion/christian-leuprecht-canada-enables-russia-by-opposing-pipelines-and-protecting-money-launderers

Queen’s University encourages its research experts to add to the global conversation as the situation continues to rapidly evolve. If you are interested in contributing to the conversation, please contact media relations officer Victoria Klassen (victoria.klassen@queensu.ca or 343-363-1794).

Combating misinformation and fake news

Two upcoming workshops with The Conversation Canada will highlight how Queen’s researchers can help bridge the gap between academia and the public

The Conversation Canada and Queen's University workshops

As we enter the third year of a global pandemic, we are facing what the World Health Organization calls an infodemic – too much information including false or misleading information in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak. In this scenario, the importance of fact-based, expert commentary has never been clearer, and not only in relation to COVID-19: research-informed analysis is a powerful tool in supporting critical thinking and daily decision-making related to climate change, health, politics, technology, the economy, and many other topics.

The Conversation and Queen’s

The Conversation, an online news platform created in Australia in 2011, aims to combat misinformation by paring academic experts with experienced journalists to write informed content that can be shared and repurposed by media outlets worldwide.  Following its success in Australia, regional editions began appearing worldwide and, in 2017, The Conversation Canada launched with support from some of the country’s top universities, including Queen’s, and Canada’s research funding agencies.

As a founding member of The Conversation Canada, the Queen’s research community has embraced the platform as a unique tool for sharing their research expertise and engaging with the media. Over 240 Queen’s researchers have published more than 380 articles that have garnered over 7 million views via The Conversation Canada’s website. Through the platform’s Creative Commons Licensing and newswire access, 100s of major media outlets, including The National Post, CNN, TIME, The Washington Post, The Weather Network, Today’s Parent and Scientific American, have republished these pieces.

From cryptocurrencies to extinct bird species, Queen’s researchers have written on a variety of timely and timeless topics. Some of our most-read articles looked at the rising popularity of spirituality without religion, the negative effects of salting icy roads on aquatic ecosystems, a study of depression in adults with autism, wine consumption and cardiovascular health, and COVID-19 tests and terminology. Each of these articles have reached over 127,000 readers.

“Key to our research promotion and thought leadership strategy, The Conversation is a powerful tool for community engagement, bolstering the efforts of our researchers to share their expertise and build profile,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “We have seen participation from every faculty, and Queen’s continues to show leadership in contributing to the platform among Canadian peers.”

The workshops: How to write for The Conversation

The Conversation Canada and Queen’s University Workshops*
Wednesday, March 9, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Tuesday, March 22, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Limited spaces. Click to register.
* The workshops will be held via Zoom.

On March 9 and 22, Queen’s will welcome Scott White, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Conversation Canada, for two workshops targeted to faculty and graduate students interested in writing for the platform. The virtual, hour-long program will highlight the changing media landscape, the role of The Conversation and researchers as credible news sources, and how to craft the perfect pitch. Participants can bring pitch ideas to the workshops to receive real-time editorial feedback.

Queen’s is always looking to add to its roster of authors taking part in The Conversation. Researchers interested in learning more about the platform are encouraged to register for the March workshops or contact researchcommunications@queensu.ca. 

Visualizing impact with the Art of Research

The Art of Research photo contest has been reimagined to highlight research that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals.

[Collage of past winners of the Art of Research photo contest]

 

The Queen’s Art of Research photo contest is returning for its sixth year with a new focus. The 2022 contest has been reimagined through the lens of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a universal call to action and framework for social impact. This change also aligns with the mission and vision of the new Queen’s Strategy and our participation in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which measure an institution's impact on society, based on their success in delivering on strategies that advance the SDGs. Queen’s ranked first in Canada and fifth in the world in the 2021 Impact Rankings. Photo submissions will be accepted from Feb. 28 to April 13, 2022. 

SDG Action and Awareness Week
As a new member of the University Global Coalition, Queen’s is participating in the 2022 Sustainable Development Goals Action and Awareness Week and highlighting the contributions of the Queen’s community to social impact within and beyond the local community. Learn more.

For the past five years, the Art of Research has been an opportunity for Queen’s researchers to share their work through compelling visuals and engage the public in seeing their research in new ways. In aligning this year’s contest with the UN SDGs, we celebrate the impact of Queen’s research in advancing these important global goals.

“The Art of Research showcases the diversity of Queen’s research in a creative and innovative way,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “By aligning the contest with the SDGs, we can further demonstrate the impact of our research in addressing the challenges of society at home and around the world. I encourage members of our research community to participate.”

Eligibility and prizes

Hosted by Queen’s University Relations, the photo contest is open to Queen’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Research depicted in the submissions must have been completed at Queen’s or while the submitter was affiliated with the university. More information about contest rules can be found on the Research@Queen’s website.

Five new SDG-themed categories will be offered this year. These, along with the popular People's Choice Vote, add up to a total of six prizes of $250 each for the top submission in each category. Photos from the contest are highlighted across university research promotion initiatives.

2022 categories:

Good health and well-being

Research that advances our understanding and the improvement of human health and supports the well-being of all global citizens.

Inspired by SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), and 3 (Good Health and Well-Being)

Climate action

Research that seeks to protect our planet’s natural resources, including water, biodiversity, and climate for future generations.

Inspired by SDGs 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 13 (Climate Action), 14 (Life Below Water), and 15 (Life on Land)

Creative and sustainable communities

Research that helps us to understand our past and present to help build resilient, sustainably-focused, and creative communities.

Inspired by SDGs 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions)

Partnerships for inclusivity

Research that promotes just and inclusive societies through partnerships and community-based research.

Inspired by SDGs 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and 10 (Reduced Inequalities)

Innovation for global impact

Discovery- and curiosity-based research and innovations that addresses wicked, complex global challenges.

Inspired by SDGs 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals)

People’s choice

Determined by an online vote by members of the Queen’s community.

The contest closes on April 13. To submit an entry and explore winning images from previous contests, visit the Research@Queen’s website.

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