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Brian Webb seeks accreditation to send Wooster students to future United Nations Climate Change Conferences

Webb presents on religious resistance to climate action in the Faith Pavilion inside the COP venue, alongside other faith leaders from around the world.

Brian Webb, director of campus sustainability at The College of Wooster, knows climate change is a global issue that local communities can impact. His goal is to create awareness and education within the College and greater Wooster communities about the global efforts to address climate change. He recently attended COP28, the 28th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. As a panelist and leader representing the Christian Climate Observers Program, which he founded four years ago, he shared his research about the intersection between climate policy, environmental communication, and faith communities in the United States. He also presented at an interfaith dialogue on “Christian-Islamic Perspectives on Climate at Cop28” at the Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace.

“Bringing emerging Christian leaders to the climate summit mentors them to be more effective in their climate leadership with the faith groups they are connected to,” Webb said. At the 2023 conference, which hosted a global gathering of nearly 100,000 world leaders and stakeholders addressing climate change, the biggest takeaway was consensus to transition away from fossil fuels. “While there are loopholes in the agreement, it is significant that every nation agreed that we need to move away from fossil fuels,” Webb said.

Webb attended the conference with fellow members of the Christian Climate Observers Program he founded in 2020.

Webb attended the conference with fellow members of the Christian Climate Observers Program he founded in 2020.

Webb also used his fifth time at the climate summit as a scouting mission to consider the possibilities if Wooster students are allowed to attend future COPs. They will be able to attend the conference if The College of Wooster’s application for accreditation with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is accepted. However, Webb said, the process with the U.N. body that oversees the process to accredit official observer organizations is long and not guaranteed. “There are a lot of other stakeholder organizations, non-profit organizations, businesses, corporations, and universities that have a stake in the progress that’s made globally on climate change,” he said. “There’s nothing left for us to do except wait.”

“Taking students to the global conference would help them understand and convey the urgency of the problem in a more positive light,” Webb said. The students would have the opportunity to see representatives from every nation working to address climate change issues.

“You regularly meet people from low-lying island nations who are seeing their homelands receding away or Indigenous activities in the Amazon able to meet and hear their stories firsthand, but also see U.S. Senators and other nations’ leaders,” he said. “The experience of attending the conference can’t be replicated in classroom learning.”

“I see the COP process as one way I can do that. Focusing on the progress that we are making, even if it’s too slow for what needs to be done, the enthusiasm and passion that you see at COP can be brought back to the Wooster community,” he said.  If Wooster is approved as an observer organization, the first conference they would be eligible to attend would be in 2026 in Brazil.

Featured photo: Webb presents on religious resistance to climate action in the Faith Pavilion inside the COP venue, alongside other faith leaders from around the world.

Posted in News on February 2, 2024.


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