Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

City of Oberlin Sends Delegation to UN COP28 Climate Summit

The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly known as the COP28 conference included a delegation from the City of Oberlin. Sustainability Coordinator Linda Arbogast and former City Council President Bryan Burgess traveled to take part in the summit along with 85,000 other delegates from various nations.

The conference was held in Dubai from Nov. 30–Dec. 12 and was the 28th meeting of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is the only multilateral climate forum in the world today where countries are given a venue to work together and reach international agreements to combat climate change.

The Oberlin delegates were invited to the conference by Bloomberg Philanthropies, who wanted to involve more municipalities at the regional level in coming up with solutions to combat climate change. Bloomberg Philanthropies is the charitable organization of billionaire Michael Bloomberg, encompassing all of his donations and other charitable work. Bloomberg is the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions.

“[Bloomberg Philanthropies] have started to realize that local governments like ours play a big role in climate policies and climate action,” Arbogast said. “And in fact, cities themselves have progressed further than countries at large. And in seeing that, it becomes clear that the only way to really meet the goals that we set forth in [COP28] are to involve local governments.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies funded Burgess and Arbogast’s trip. They sponsored cities from all around the United States and the world to send representatives in addition to Oberlin.

At the summit, Arbogast and Burgess attended various presentations, including one hosted by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and a presentation on women and gender hosted by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, where attendees included the then-U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry and, briefly, Vice President Kamala Harris.
Arbogast also spoke about how being in the United Arab Emirates, which is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels for much of its economy, impacted the summit.

“And here we are in a city that is funded by the fossil fuel industry, not entirely, but in a large part,” Arbogast said. “So that was strange. Ultimately, I think that the goals were pushed harder because we were in such a place… because we see this place oozing wealth from fossil fuels.”

At times, the discussions at the conference became heated.

“[T]here were sessions on groups that are doing carbon sequestration. [It was] completely controversial,” Arbogast said. “People were angry, people were screaming, and trying to shut down the voices. Here are people who feel like … we need all hands on deck and carbon sequestration is an important part of what we need to do. And people who believe that that is taking away from the real action of needing to phase out of fossil fuels. So important conversations, and, frankly, no great answer.”

Even so, Arbogast believes that the summit was able to facilitate a good discussion on the future of climate change and how it must be stopped.

“[There was] really great conversation, and then some really great suggestions about how to reach young people, how to talk about climate change in a way that’s helpful,” Arbogast said. “I learned so many things.”

The delegation also attended the Local Climate Summit at COP28. The summit was set up by Bloomberg Philanthropies, which worked with government officials on how to provide resources to help local climate plans. The organization was particularly interested in getting more youth involved in fighting climate change. Michael Bloomberg also announced that he would be donating $65 million to help local governments fight climate change, which brought his commitment to support cities to over $650 million.

At the local climate summit, organizers asked that participants write down a few things that they could do to help young people understand the impact of climate change and better engage with the problem.

As a result of that exercise, The City of Oberlin is now working with Bloomberg Philanthropies to develop more programming for young people in Oberlin. The programming currently under discussion is a plan to revamp the City’s Playground Experience Summer Camp.

“The City has for many years run [Playground Experience] for … all kids; a lot of low income families participate,” said Arbogast. “And we think this could be a great opportunity to expand the programming at the camp in the summer and connect them to the Lorain County Metro Parks. So that’s one of the ideas, but we’re going to think harder about that since now we have this opportunity.”

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