April 18, 2024: IRES Student Symposium with Lindah Ddamba, Remzi Xhemalce-Fuentes, Dayna Rachkowski (Last Seminar in Term 2)

1. Energy Transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review of the Factors Inhibiting Accelerated Progress

2. EXPLORING EMPOWERMENT THROUGH BILL S-5: building government accountability in chemicals management using a right to a healthy environment

3. IMAGINING POSSIBLE ROLES FOR GREEN HYDROGEN IN MEXICO. Between Hype and a Leapfrogging Opportunity

Time: 11:00am to 1:30pm

Location: AERL Theatre, Room 120 (2202 Main Mall).

Click here to register for Zoom link. Zoom will be terminated if we encounter tech problems 5 to 10 mins into the seminar.

IRES Student Symposium Agenda

11am to 12pm – Speakers Lindah Ddamba and Dayna Rachkowski

1pm to 1:30pm – Speaker Remzi Xhemalce

Talk summary:

The existential threat posed by climate change has propagated a global movement towards the transition from the use of fossils to the development of renewable sources of resources. The Paris Accord and subsequent climate treaties recognize the need to reduce the unabated use of coal and increase investments in renewables. Notably, while nearly 200 countries acceded to the global climate pacts, some countries (particularly in the global South), have rejected the aggressive phaseout of coal, citing the need for a just and gradual transition that mitigates the financial and economic risks of eliminating fossils. The UNFCCC (2021) reported in its NDC Synthesis Report that several national action plans fall short of the required action to mitigate climate change which may push performance to a maximum threshold of only 3.5 degrees Celsius global warming by 2100 above the desired target of limiting global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (if possible 1.5 degrees) of the pre-industrial temperatures. The evidence documents the existence of enabling policies and vast green resources in the Sub-Saharan region. However, the region continues to lag behind on its climate goals. A number of political promises have been made including a target to attain 100% transition to green energy by 2030 – which is deemed to be ‘overly ambitious’ by the international community. In this thesis, I explore energy transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa with a focus on Kenya, Uganda and South-Africa – examining trends, challenges and future prospects.

Lindah Ddamba, IRES MA Student


Lindah holds a bachelor’s degree in law from Makerere University, Uganda (2010) and a Master of Laws Degree (2014) from the University of Toronto- Canada, where she majored in energy regulation and resource governance. Shortly thereafter, she worked as a Senior Legal Officer of the Uganda Electricity Regulatory Authority for four years. Her role involved the evaluation of electricity projects for development and she worked on a number of electricity policies and laws. Her research focus at IRES is on the promotion of renewables, where she seeks to evaluate the obstacles to accelerated energy transitions in developing economies with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.

Talk summary:

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999) has just faced significant revision. CEPA regulates all commercial chemicals in Canada, and is now the first place in legislation that Indigenous peoples and Canadians have ever been given a legal right to a healthy environment.

The aim of this work is to understand how Bill S-5 may be used by Indigenous peoples in Canada to hold the government accountable for the prioritization of human and environmental health. This work will use Sarnia Ontario – home to Aamjiwnaang First Nation, and 40% of Canada’s petrochemical industry, as a case study for what environmental and health forward accountability may look like regarding chemical use and regulatory processes.

Dayna’s presentation will give an overview of; the commitments made in Bill S-5, chemical regulation processes & risk assessments in Canada, rights to a healthy environment, and review her qualitative semi structured interview data with those who hold expertise on law & policy, Indigenous knowledge systems & those with lived experience of chemical exposure.

Dayna Rachkowski, MA Student


Dayna Rachkowski (She/Her) is an MA student supervised by Dr. Gunilla Oberg in the EGESTA Lab. Dayna previously attended the University of Guelph (BA of Honours Environmental Governance) providing her with an interdisciplinary background studying political science, economics, and geography. Dayna is curious to understand the relationship between science and policy, and how implementing effective and well communicated legislation can help those living in Canada hold their government accountable for maintaining a healthy environment. Dayna is a SSHRC recipient, a climate teaching coordinator, and the community engagement representative for the IRES Student Society.

Talk summary:

Amid global shifts towards net-zero emissions, hydrogen emerges as a pivotal solution, especially for the hard-to-electrify sector. Mexico, an upper-middle-income nation and significant oil producer, grapples with substantial greenhouse gas emissions. Recent efforts to revitalize the oil sector have led to setbacks in climate policy, particularly in energy. Political polarization over energy independence versus security has hindered renewable energy adoption and new transmission capacity. Against this backdrop, hydrogen gains prominence as a versatile energy carrier, offering solutions to store variable renewable energy. With renewable energy capacity allocated for green hydrogen production, Mexico could capitalize on this growing market. This research evaluates hydrogen’s potential as an environmental, business, and energy transition opportunity for Mexico. Employing a problem-driven framework, the study examines hydrogen’s role across three tailor-made political scenarios. Deliverables include policy recommendations for a potential national hydrogen strategy, an energy storage assessment, and break-even price estimations for power-to-gas plants.

Remzi Xhemalce-Fuentes, IRES PhD Candidate


Remzi M. Xhemalce-Fuentes (he/him) is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. From 2013 to 2019 he worked for the Federal government of Mexico. In his role as Director for International Oil Markets at the Office of the Secretary of Energy of Mexico, he advised the office of the Secretary on international best practices on oil and gas policy. As Deputy Director for International Affairs, he oversaw the cooperation between Mexico and selected international energy organizations including OPEC, the International Renewable Energy Agency and the Energy Working Group of the G20.

He also led the energy consultancy company R&A Bioenergy from 2008 to 2011. He is currently researching the role of Hydrogen as a renewable energy storage option and as an energy carrier for hard-to-electrify sectors.

Remzi enjoys sailing, climbing, skiing and exploring the outdoors with his dog Wookiee