By Student Delegate Hope McLellan-Brandt
Climate change disproportionately affects populations that “are most reliant on natural resources for their livelihoods and/or who have the least capacity to respond to natural hazards, such as droughts, landslides, floods and hurricanes.” This blog post will discuss how women and LGBTQ+ community members are uniquely affected by climate change as historically burdened groups, and how climate plans can be more inclusive of these underrepresented communities.
Globally, women are more likely to live in poverty and less likely to be a part of important decision-making that would allow them to “[contribute] to climate-related planning, policy-making and implementation.” Women, moreover, are less equipped to adapt to the climate crisis because they have unequal access to important tools, such as land (only 15% of landholders in the world are women) and natural resources. These factors limit the ability of women to protect themselves from climate disasters and participate in the political process. And yet, the active participation and voices of women are essential to the fight for climate justice. Climate justice and gender equality, like many other facets of the fight for equality and justice, are interrelated. Since the Paris Agreement in 2015, there has been a call for women to be more central to the decision-making on climate change because women often have specialized knowledge regarding “resource management and/or leading sustainable practices at the household and community level.”
LGBTQ+ individuals are also likely to be disproportionately affected by climate change. Particularly, LGBTQ+ individuals aged 18–25 face a 2.2 times greater risk of homelessness than non-LGBTQ+ persons. Transgender individuals are more likely to be unsheltered due to discrimination at shelters. And, in the face of disaster, LGBTQ+ people are less likely to receive aid due to discrimination, which is still prohibited in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Much like women, LGBTQ+ voices are stifled in the climate change debate, despite the hurdles that inevitably affect the LGBTQ+ community in unique ways. LGBTQ+ voices are necessary now more than ever to mitigate the disastrous effects of climate change on the LGBTQ+ community, and to help ensure that no individual is denied life-saving climate relief due to their identity.
This summer, there was an outcry by environmental justice activist and White House advisor Jerome Foster and his partner Elijah Mckenzie-Jackson regarding the choice of Egypt to host COP27. Egypt has not explicitly banned same-sex relationships, but according to an article from the Guardian, Egypt has “used laws designed to protect against public debauchery to harass, arrest, imprison and even torture LGBTQ people.” Other individuals have reported that Egyptian security forces drag people from the streets based on their gender expression and entrap individuals on dating apps and social media. This raises concerns about the ability of LGBTQ+ voices to be safely heard at COP27, and the safety of LGBTQ+ persons in Egypt at large. Their letter to the United Nations can be found here.
Overall, women and LGBTQ+ individuals have significant stake in climate negotiations but remain largely unrepresented due to discrimination and lack of access to important decision-making. COP27 stands in a position to alleviate those burdens, but the voices of women and LGBTQ+ persons, particularly those belonging to other marginalized communities, need to be amplified to enact change. Liberation and inclusion of gender-marginalized individuals has the capacity to create rich and effective resolutions that actually go to the heart of what the community needs, creating a more just and equitable fight for climate change.
 United Nations: Climate Change, Introduction to Gender and Climate Change, UNFCCC, https://unfccc.int/gender (last visited Oct. 16, 2022).
 Sima Bahous, Under-Secretary-General, United Nations, Global Land Forum: Women’s Land Rights are Intrinsically and Vitally Linked to Gender Equality (May 24, 2022).
 Fabiano De Andrade Correa, Gender Equality: A Cornerstone for Environmental and Climate Justice, UNDP (Mar. 29, 2022), https://www.undp.org/blog/gender-equality-cornerstone-environmental-and-climate-justice (last visited Oct. 16, 2022).
 United Nations: Climate Change, supra note 1.
 Mikyla Reta, How Environmental and Climate Injustice Affects the LGBTQI+ Community, CAP (June 16, 2022), https://www.americanprogress.org/article/how-environmental-and-climate-injustice-affects-the-lgbtqi-community/ (last visited Oct. 16, 2022).
 See Anuj Behal, How Climate Change is Affecting the LGBTQIA+ Community, DownToEarth (Jan. 11, 2021), https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/environment/how-climate-change-is-affecting-the-lgbtqia-community-74988 (last visited Oct. 27, 2022) (discussing the disproportionate effects of climate change on the LGBTQIA+ community, stating “LGBTQIA+ individuals are uniquely vulnerable to exclusion, violence and exploitation because of the cumulative impacts of social stigma, discrimination and hatred. The social stigma around the LGBTQIA+ community also makes several social opportunities and infrastructure unavailable to them.”).
 Oliver Milman, UN Urged to Move COP From Egypt over ‘LGBTQ+ Torture’, Guardian (July 15, 2022), https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jul/15/un-cop27-egypt-lgbtq-climate-crisis (last visited Oct. 16, 2022).
 Human Rights Watch, Egypt: Security Forces Abuse, Torture LGBT People, HRW (Oct. 1, 2020, 12:00 AM), https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/10/01/egypt-security-forces-abuse-torture-lgbt-people (last visited Oct. 16, 2022).