#arts4cop26 meetup report

How does the Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdown and social distancing challenge artists’ thinking about making work addressing the #COP26 UNFCCC Climate Change talks scheduled for Glasgow?

More than 70 artists, scientists, curators and organisational leaders met up on Wednesday 29 April 2020 to discuss how the arts can address COP26. In planning before the Covid-19 lockdown, the meeting happened through video conferencing, hosted by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland working with Creative Carbon Scotland and ecoartscotland. Friends of the Earth kindly lent the conferencing capacity.

Discussion ranged over practical and conceptual issues – when would the COP be rescheduled? Where could the Civil Society space be hosted? Was the role of the arts to provide a warm ‘Scottish’ and Glaswegian welcome for delegates, or to offer alternative ways of imagining ourselves within the lifeweb? To add vibrancy to Marches and gatherings or to explore how the current lockdown can help us imagine degrowth and lower impacts on the planet? Kat Jones from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland highlighted the new Climate Fringe website as a key resource for programming and planning.

Wallace Heim offered some opening thoughts on the arts in relation to the COP, drawing on experiences from Creative Carbon Scotland’s programme for COP21.

Recent articles have highlighted many environmental changes during the lockdown, but the actual temporary one-off reduction in CO2 emissions isn’t likely to meet the necessary permanent year on year reduction mandated in the Paris Agreement. This raised issues about the impact of personal choices versus the need for structural change. What does this mean for how we imagine the future, and how can the arts help us understand these conundrums?

The key messages from the meeting were:

  • Climate change (crisis, emergency) is happening everywhere. It is vital that Glasgow as a venue for a negotiation doesn’t overshadow the need for imagining and implementing the necessary structural, political, business and personal changes everywhere.
  • The COP was a two-week event in November 2020 which is now happening sometime in 2021 but the bigger moment, the chance to address the crisis and avoid the worst impacts, is now and across this decade. Doing something for COP needs to be part of a much larger commitment to change. The arts are being forced to adapt by the pandemic and this is an opportunity to imagine a much wider adaptation to a low carbon (low travel, low production, low consumption, low busyness, local food) future.
  • The (over)developed North needs to listen to the rest of the world, the indigenous and island peoples, the other-than-human voices, the already climate refugees.
    The discussion will continue on various platforms and another meeting will be called when the revised date for COP26 is announced.

Ways to keep in touch:

Facebook #arts4cop26 https://www.facebook.com/groups/arts4cop26/

‘cop26-general’ list on riseup https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/cop26-general

Also Slack ‘cop26coalition’

Green Tease network as a means of finding other people to work with, publicise things, etc. : https://www.creativecarbonscotland.com/project/green-tease/
If people from working groups want to organise things to follow-up, they can apply for support and (a little bit of) funding through the Green Tease open call: https://www.creativecarbonscotland.com/green-tease-event-open-call/

Green Arts Initiative as a means of finding environmentally engaged arts organisations across Scotland: https://www.creativecarbonscotland.com/green-arts-initiative/

Previous meetings:

IS THIS IT? Looking towards COP26 https://ecoartscotland.net/2020/03/07/is-this-it-looking-towards-cop26/

Notes from the December meeting https://www.creativecarbonscotland.com/green-tease-cop-tales-and-cocktails/


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