Student Engagement in Climate Justice

PLTS Students at the U.N. Global Climate Summit (COP26) in Glasgow

May 1, 2022


Julie Gerrish, PLTS student in the Concentration in Climate Justice and Faith (right) participates in an action at COP26 calling for a “Loss and Damages” fund to help vulnerable nations recover from climate disasters. Photo: Simon Chambers/ACT

Two students from the Climate Justice and Faith Concentration, Kelly Miller-Sanchez and Julie Gerrish, were official members of the ELCA delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference known as COP 26 (the Paris Climate Summit was COP 20) in Glasgow, Scotland October 31 – November 12, 2021.

Thousands of delegates representing NGOs (non-governmental organizations, what we in the U.S. call non-profits) from around the globe were present to influence negotiations. Julie and Kelly were among these NGO representatives pressuring governmental representatives to make bold commitments to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions AND support policies that prioritize the well-being of climate vulnerable people, particularly Indigenous communities.

“The opportunity to attend COP26 as an observer was beyond my wildest dreams!  While the overall experience was overwhelming and exhausting, it was fascinating to be able to witness how decisions get made on this scale.  I was able to join in a video call with the US State Department delegation and to hear all the 200 member parties respond to the drafts of the agreement.  While it seemed unlikely that any agreement could possibly be arrived at, I was struck by how thoughtful and well-spoken the respondents were as a group.  While the final agreement fell short of what many had hoped for, I find the fact that so many nations were able to come together to address our climate catastrophe and come to any agreement a cause for hope.  Still, there is much work to be done!” Kelly Miller-Sanchez, MDiv ’22 with Concentration in Climate Justice and Faith.