Inclusivity for LGBTQ+ at COP27 – Samuel Kocurek

COP27 has been one of the most overwhelming yet formative experiences of my life thus far. Meeting some of the most influential activists, community organizers, and politicians has been humbling and enlightening. I have met various people who have left me in tears including Ms. Elizabeth Wathuli. During my very first panel at COP, she spoke about the disproportionate effects that women feel from the climate crisis and about her work in Nairobi, Kenya where women dig wells so deep that they get buried alive due to sediment collapse. I have tried to be a sponge, absorbing the knowledge that all these professionals have, especially as it pertains to clean, renewable energy since that is where I believe my career interests lay. Getting to exchange contact information with people like Ms. Ann Ohloff, the chief scientific editor of the Emission Gap Report, and Louise Burrows, an Energy Advisor for E3G’s Coal Transition team, feels surreal and as I write this blog, this very much feels like a fever dream. I am beyond grateful to be in this space and I feel that with every panel I change my perspectives and grow as a young climate activist.Samuel Kocurek

However, I have noted a distinct lack of queer representation at COP27. Many (not all) panels show a diversity of gender, race, and background yet noticeably, there is no discussion about queer people existing in these spaces. I come from a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies background so I feel keenly aware of how LGBTQ+ people occupy spaces and feel comfortable to express themselves in these spaces. To say I am disappointed is somewhat of an understatement. There is so much wisdom here at COP at the variety of panels and events which tells us that diversity strengthens humanity and climate resilience as a whole. So to see a whole group of people ignored and made invisible feels disenfranchising.

This is when I feel thankful to be a UConn student. This cohort of young undergraduates and graduates makes me feel hope when we begin each day with stimulating and engaging ‘Breakfast Talks’ where we discuss our thoughts and feelings about the conference. All the fellows come from a variety of backgrounds and throughout the day we all venture into different panels and learn such a plethora of knowledge. During our morning ‘Breakfast Club’ I find the points of views expand my knowledge of COP27 and give me greater agency to squeeze every ounce out of the conference. I am excited for solutions day tomorrow. Climate activism can be heavy and discouraging so it is important to embrace these solutions and recognize that any change is positive change.