The College of the Atlantic delegation to the United Nation's 28th Conference of the Parties ... The College of the Atlantic delegation to the United Nation's 28th Conference of the Parties are (back row, from left) Shea Turner-Matthews '26, Liz Morrison '24, Savannah Averitt '25, Angie Flores '24, professor of global environmental politics Doreen Stabinsky, (bottom row, from left) Laila Hammoudeh '26, Paloma Jofré '26, Alexandra Lofgren '25, Aishwarya Devarajan '24, and Emiliana Reinoso '24. Sara Wagner '23 is not pictured.
Credit: Will Draxler ’26

The delegation, including many members of Earth in Brackets ([Earth]), the youth climate collective at COA that bridges local and global initiatives, will be active in their mission of addressing global inequity and the real drivers of climate change to the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) this November in Dubai, UAE.

“We should focus on phasing out fossil fuels, and stop greenwashing ideas, like selling carbon credits,” says Emiliana Reinoso ’24, a delegation and [Earth] member. “The biggest polluters in the world are countries and industries in the Global North—yet, communities in the Global South are disproportionately affected by climate change. It is difficult to access COP spaces, so once you are there, it’s important to disrupt the kinds of conversations that happen there.”

COPs are the yearly gatherings of parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where all 198 countries that are members of the treaty come together to take steps to implement it. The gatherings are held in a different location every year. Civil society organizations, fossil fuel lobbyists, scientists, activists, and students also attend.

The students in this year’s COA delegation are: Emiliana Reinoso ’24, Liz Morrison ’24, Angie Flores ’24, Aishwarya Devarajan ’24, Alexandra Lofgren ’25, Shea Turner-Matthews ’26, Laila Hammoudeh ’26, Paloma Jofré ’26, Savannah Averitt ’25, and Sara Wagner ’23. COA professor of global environmental politics Doreen Stabinsky is leading the delegation.

“[Earth] wants to bring forward their agenda and discuss real solutions to climate change,” says Flores, explaining that “real solutions” means solutions tailored to tackle root systemic drivers and that focus on community impacts in relation to climate change. Flores emphasizes there are many industry lobbyists in these spaces trying to distract from real climate solutions.

The students have been working hard to thoroughly understand COP politics and climate negotiations so they can have a better impact, both as a collective and as individuals deeply engaged in addressing the climate crisis. For example, Reinoso explains, “Understanding what goes on in climate negotiations enables me to communicate these decisions to local actors, and make this information accessible.”

COA students, and specifically [Earth] members, have a 19-year-long track record of attending COPs and speaking out for radical change. “There’s a history of COA students going to these negotiations and being more radical, calling out greenwashing, and demanding real solutions to the climate crisis,” explains Flores.

Reinoso expands that [Earth] has made space for itself at COP by having a reputation of speaking truth to power. This year’s delegation of students are intentionally continuing the tradition of [Earth] going to COP and being a disruptive political force, advocating for real climate solutions, and calling out capitalist hegemony.

“I believe that it is essential to use [the space [Earth] has forged] to uplift radical youth voices in the climate debate,” she says.

Reinoso attended COP27 last year and met many COA alumni while there, including founding [Earth] members. It was “a beautiful moment to realize the history of COA there,” she says.

At COP28, the students will follow negotiations of interest as observers, engage in grassroots actions and protests in the space, connect with COA alumni, activists, and organizations, and, if all goes according to plan, host an event in the youth pavilion.

The students are doing extensive work to prepare for COP and to be able to bring as much positive change as possible while there. This fall term, most of the delegation has taken relevant classes, including Stabinsky’s Global Politics of Climate Change and Advanced International Environmental Law Seminar, taught by professor Ken Cline. In addition, Reinoso, Flores, and Morrison have undertaken a collaborative independent study on COPs and climate politics.

The group also meets as a delegation, and weekly for [Earth]. In addition, some students are active volunteers for grassroots and international coalitions such as JustME for JustUS, Climate Action Network, the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice, and the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, among others.

“We’re putting a lot of work into understanding the climate negotiations so we can have a better impact as students, as a collective, and as people in initiatives around climate. Also this experience is helpful for students that are interested in going into climate research,” Reinoso says.

“Countries have been meeting at these yearly summits to implement the UN climate treaty for 28 years now, and there are still no real commitments. Developed countries and the fossil fuel industry often obstruct progress. Disrupting and challenging their narratives is crucial, and it’s essential for the perspectives and demands of those most impacted by the climate crisis to be present” says Flores.

“Talking with COA alums in these spaces and listening to the impact that going to COPs have had in their career, life, political views, and growth just makes me realize how important it is for other students to have access to this opportunity,” she adds.

COA has status at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as an official observer organization. Every year, the college is given a certain number of accreditation spots. An application and selection process determines which students will officially participate on the COA delegation. The college covers the cost of accommodations; students have to cover their flights and food.