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SC Wednesday Talk: Speaker: Miriam Diamond, Earth Sciences, U of T Title: “Solutions, and why we need them now, to address the global threat of chemical pollution”, February 15, 2023, 2-4pm

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February 15, 2023 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

February 15, 2023

Speaker: Miriam Diamond, Earth Sciences, U of T

Title: “Solutions, and why we need them now, to address the global threat of chemical pollution”

Introducer: TBA

Abstract: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has named our current, global situation a “planetary emergency” that will undermine the ability of all societies, today and in the future, the right to the basics of life — clean water, sufficient food, and the security of a stable climate. Last year, UNEP added chemical pollution and waste, along with climate change and loss of biodiversity, to the major threats that must be addressed if we are to surmount the planetary emergency. Adding to this call for action, the Stockholm Resilience Center recently concluded that the world has breached the planetary boundary for chemicals and plastics. It is anticipated that the science-policy panel on “chemicals and waste” (i.e., an “IPCC” for chemical pollution), that was endorsed in March 2022 at the United Nations Environment Assembly, will be the international forum for motivating much needed solutions. This talk briefly presents evidence for the need for evidence-based global solutions for chemical pollution and then explores what those solutions might look like. I use our recent analysis of the legacy contaminant PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) to illustrate some of the challenges and “lessons learned”. Next, I introduce the concept of “lock-in” as applied to chemical supply and demand to analyze barriers to achieving solutions, which is needed to inform the development of effective solutions. Finally, I present the, as yet aspirational, solution of implementing a global “hard cap” on chemical emissions and ultimately production, analogous to the “hard cap” that the international community is working to implement for greenhouse gas emissions. The talk concludes by emphasizing that we can and must strive for global solutions – we owe it to the next generations.

Bio: Miriam Diamond is a professor at the University of Toronto with a research focus on understanding chemical contaminants from emissions through to human and ecosystem exposure. She is active in promoting sound chemicals management at national to international scales, having been the co-chair of Canada’s Chemicals Management Plan Science Committee and Ontario’s Toxic Reduction Scientific Expert Panel. She is now a member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environmental Facility, in addition to other national and international activities. Miriam is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Miriam is an Associate Editor of Environmental Science and Technology and is Vice-Chair of the International Panel on Chemical Pollution.

The link to register is  https://forms.office.com/r/ZwzuTuybfx

The deadline to register is the Monday before the event at noon. The Zoom link will be sent to registrants only.


February 15, 2023
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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