City of Oxford Makes Strides to Combat Climate Change

By: Elizabeth Weber

On Sept. 3, 2019, the City of Oxford signed the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. Now, in conjunction with Miami University President Gregory Crawford signing the President’s Climate Leadership Commitments (PCLC), Mayor Mike Smith will reaffirm this pledge on Sept. 22, 2020. The event will highlight both commitment to taking action on climate change and raising awareness of the sustainable initiatives in our community. I was able to talk to Seth Cropenbaker, Assistant to the City Manager, and Jessica Greene, Assistant City Manager, to learn more about this collaboration and the City of Oxford’s pledges to a sustainable future.

What is the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy?

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM Alliance) is a global alliance of over 10,000 cities that advocate for city climate leadership. Based on the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, the cities and partners of the GCoM Alliance move towards a low-emission and climate resilient future. Specifically, it enables research, data, finance, and communications to be at the forefront of action and empowers cities to lead the way towards a sustainable society. 

To tackle the climate challenge, the foundation of the GCoM Alliance are the initiatives of Innovate4Cities, Data4Cities, and Invest4Cities. Their initiatives combine city-led research, innovation, technical assistance and city-led intelligence to empower cities to strengthen the global climate solution. Based on the 2019 commitments, the cities and partners could collectively reduce 24 billion tons of CO2e of annual emissions by 2030.  By taking the initiative to sign the pledge, the City of Oxford is committing to combating climate change at the local level and taking strides to create a plan of mitigation and adaptation of its impacts.

The City of Oxford’s Timeline

With the signing of the GCoM Alliance in Sept.2019, the City Council agreed to create  a Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory, Risk and Vulnerability Assessment, and Sustainability Task Force within the first two years. So far, Oxford has successfully built a Sustainability Task Force. Their next goal for the Task Force is to create a website that posts regular updates of their actions towards climate change. Oxford has also completed a Partial Greenhouse Gas Inventory that covered the Local Governmental Greenhouse Gas Inventory. This is only a piece of the entire inventory, but according to Jessica Greene,  it was a great learning experience and illustrated a small-scale level of their future endeavors. This partial inventory collected data on our local government’s service vehicles, operation of equipment and buildings, etc. 

Partnership with Miami University

One important collaboration that has allowed Oxford to be successful in collecting the data for their inventories is the connection with Miami University and the ability to use some of the experts we have here on campus. Master of Environmental Science students helped to create the Partial Inventory, and hopefully the Miami University team will be able to produce a Full Greenhouse Gas Inventory by Spring 2021. Coinciding with this research, the Risk and Vulnerability Assessment will hopefully be completed around the same time. 

With this important information, Oxford will respond to the data and create targets and goals to mitigate and adapt to climate change in 2021. Within the direct partnership between Oxford and Miami University, both groups have important roles for combating climate change at the local level. Beyond the student partnerships, both Oxford and Miami have liaisons who sit on each other’s task forces and work for a greater collaboration of positive climate action. 

A Sustainable Future

The City of Oxford has shown very promising efforts towards being part of the global solution of climate change. Beyond the GCoM Alliance and collaboration with Miami, the city has advanced in many other areas as well! They worked to complete a municipal carbon emission survey, made large curbside recycle bins available to city residents, and underwent the development of a community composting program and collection site. These climate and energy initiatives allow our local community to take measurable, positive actions towards an inclusive, low-emission and climate-resilient future. With the commitment of our community, we can help change the world! I personally am excited to see the next steps that the City of Oxford will undertake to achieve these goals and the sustainable future we are moving towards!

Be sure to tune in to see the reaffirming of the Covenant of Mayors pledge by Oxford Mayor Mike Smith and signing of the President’s Commitment by Dr. Crawford on Sept. 22, 2020 at 12 p.m. EST on Zoom.

Cover photo courtesy of Elizabeth Weber

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