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To combat climate change, U of T host the “Woodstock of Carbon Dioxide”

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The University of Toronto is set to host an event that has been dubbed the “Woodstock of carbon dioxide”.

U of T professor Geoffrey Ozin is the originator of the moniker for the session, which will take place October 12 and actually claims the more staid event title of “Transformative Research to Combat Climate Change”.

The one day affair will host many of the world’s top minds on the subject of greenhouse gases. One of the subjects they will be talking about is the possibility of harnessing the greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere and using them as a potential energy source. Ozin says the problem is not an easy one to solve because the stability of carbon dioxide means such an undertaking would require a huge amount of energy to turn it into a source. But he says the potential benefits mean it is an endeavor worth pursuing.

“Just as you recycle plastic, glass and paper, why not recycle carbon dioxide?” says Ozin, who will present a talk entitled “CO2 Chemistry and Engineering Solutions to Climate Change”.

Professor Mohini Sain, dean of the U of T Faculty of Forestry, which is the host of the event, says it all about thinking outside the box on climate change.

“There are many ways to tackle the climate change challenge, or, I would say, fight the climate change war,” he says. “The Paris Agreement took two pathways: mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and reduction of fossil-fuel consumption. What we are saying at the University of Toronto is that there are other ways of doing this. We are bringing in a third paradigm: Use CO2 as a resource, just as we have used petroleum as a resource.”

While the original Woodstock shunned corporate sponsorship, the “Woodstock of Carbon Dioxide” is presented by Ford. Ozin says the arrangement makes basic sense.

“Can you imagine the pressure that the automobile industry is under?” asks Ozin, who is a chemist of international renown. “They put out 35 per cent of the emissions in the city. There are strict controls coming along. They have to figure them out. As do all the CO2 industries.”

Speakers at “Transformative Research to Combat Climate Change” include Minister of the Environment and Climate Control, Glen Murray, Emmanuel Varenn Director, Alternative Fuel Platform Management at Volvo Trucks, Tom Mallouk from the Department of Chemistry at Penn State University, John Paul Morgan, the Chief Technology Officer of Morgan Solar, Dr. Antonio Anselmo, the CEO of ChemBioPower, and John Jackson, Research and Innovation Development Officer with the National Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada.

Ozin sounds no less idealistic than those who sloshed around in the mud on a dairy farm in upstate New York 47 years ago.

“The beauty is this,” he adds. “Fossil fuel will run out. Carbon dioxide will be recycled for the rest of time.”

“Transformative Research to Combat Climate Change” will take place at The Faculty Club on the St. George Campus of the University of Toronto from 8:30am to 3:00pm on October 12.

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