Posts Tagged ‘COP26 Glasgow’

Reblog: Global Environment Policy as political theatre #COP26

March 17, 2020

Reposting from Artists & Climate Change, Kyoto Forever? UN Climate Conferences as Political Theatre is a valuable exploration of the ways in which theatre can open up and imagine global environment policy-making, particularly as enacted in UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conventions of the Parties (UNFCCC COPs, particularly with COP26 coming to Glasgow in November.

Perhaps the most consequential theatrical forums of the moment are the UN climate conferences, or COP meetings, which occur every year in a different city and at which the governments of the world negotiate coordinated attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Or at least they perform diplomatic negotiation and perform commitments to reduce emissions. Global emissions continue to rise as climate impacts worsen, heightening the fictive, performative impression given by these conferences. At times they appear to be nothing but deceitful political theatre.

Continue reading…

Chris Fremantle, Anne Douglas and Dave Pritchard have been working with global environment policy in a chapter and a timeline to be published in the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Art and the Public Realm. Addressing the works of Helen Mayer Harrison (1927-2018) and Newton Harrison (b. 1932) in parallel with the step-change in global environment policy-making in the early 1970s the new texts explore different understandings of time.

 

Shelley Castle asks ‘IS THIS IT? Looking towards COP26’

March 7, 2020
Black Square, courtsey of Shelley Castle

Black Square courtesy of Shelley Castle

Throughout our travels to Glasgow and beyond, Lucy Neal, myself and Anne-Marie Culhane witnessed rivers bursting their seams and reclaiming land, causing heartache for communities and farmers, expanding territory for beavers, and washing away crops.  Rising alongside the water is a mounting sense of urgency, and an accompanying feeling of confusion, about how (or even if) as creative practitioners to respond to the Climate Change talks in Glasgow in November.

Described by Lucy as a ‘Black Square’ (from Charlotte DuCann, Dark Mountain), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) creates a real and metaphorical space which vibrates with a sense of power and exclusivity wherever it lands.  Like its equivalent cosmic force, the black hole, COP also seems to draw everything towards itself, with ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) felt by many who are not invited, but for whom the consequences of a lack of progress will be beyond dire. Lucy and I attended COP24 in Poland as part of Walking Forest, gifting seeds from the last suffragette tree standing in the Suffragette Arboretum in Batheaston to delegates in an intimate ritual aimed at supporting the work being done across the world to fight for the rights of people, trees, rivers.

It was shocking to see how little space, literally and in terms of voice, those already suffering from the consequences of the crisis were given.  So as part of the cultural sector, how do we decide if, how and for whom we might respond to this year’s COP, which has potential to shift the trajectory of Earth’s future, but a track record of getting virtually no-where beyond words?

Is this a once-in-a-lifetime chance to engage (and possibly even make a small difference to its outcomes), or is it something that will be impervious to any energy we might throw at it?  Lucy began by outlining what ‘had to happen’ legally at COP26: countries must submit their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for cutting emissions and demonstrate the Paris agreement is working well enough to deliver a safe climate.

In our open guided conversation kindly hosted by Glasgow Sculpture Studios and Chris Fremantle from ecoartscotland, we met a group of 20 artists, activists, interested individuals and organisations, to at least attempt to find a place to stand in relation to COP26.

We simplified the options of where we might position ourselves individually to:

IGNORE – it’s a f*****g waste of time,
ENGAGE – in parallel but in response to,
DISRUPT – cause interventions that shake up the black square,
BE AT THE TABLE – be inside, working with policy/actions/representatives

Lucy Neal held a group that wanted to explore the idea that to IGNORE COP was the preferred tactic.

Pondering what ‘IGNORE’ might meant, the group considered how it might be possible to create civic spaces like the ‘Commonwealth Games’ where people could mediate the event on the streets; create soft edges with generosity and kindness, person to person.  The conversation focused on creating a space that confronts apathy whilst exploring the narrative of de-growth and other ways of living.

Talk turned to how to create a ‘performance of ignoring’ – an intervention called the ‘black onesie option’ that would see people at the far-flung corners of the Black Square softening it’s edges.

It was decided that ‘Ignoring could well be the new Paying Attention!’

Shelley held the ‘ENGAGE’ space where a group considered their feelings of dilemma around any impact creative actions may have on those living and working in Glasgow.  It was thought that many local people could see both COP itself and accompanying protests as a huge annoyance.

‘It boils down to if you think COP26 will achieve anything or not’ and ‘how much influence do we want/have, who would our actions be for?’ created rich ideas for actions – like a performance in which we could ‘all just walk away from COP’

There will be spaces for creative responses, potentially at Glasgow University and at Strathclyde Student Union which will we understand be the ‘Civil Society space’ organised by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

In these spaces some representatives from COP might see or experience creative responses and alternative stories, but the question was ‘could these go back into COP in any meaningful way?’  Was inhabiting a ‘parallel space’ enough or did it just give COP more power to ignore?

Anne-Marie held the ‘DISRUPT’ table with two others. There was a surprising lack of interest in creative disruption. Anne-Marie set up some provocations to start the conversation for example:  ‘COP is really important – the lives and deaths of thousands of people/creatures etc ride on this – why wouldn’t we disrupt it by blocking airports and transport links at the end if adequate agreement not reached?’ and ‘What would the suffragettes do?’

The group then discussed whether it could be possible to create ‘hospitable disruptions’ like the Walking Forest seed gifting at COP26 which allowed people to step out of the thrust of debating, writing, compromising, and into another space for remembering their own core values and a sense of humanity/compassion’

Chris Fremantle joined those wanting to ‘BE AT THE TABLE’ in COP.  The group talked about who would be ‘at the table’ particularly focusing on issues such as farming. Multiple different groups from corporate lobbyists through the Soil Association to Via Campesina will all be there. The arts might:

  • draw attention to patriarchy and colonialism through Glasgow’s own history;
  • Solidarity in the face of challenges;
  • amplify the voices of those who are not at the table;
  • support international solidarity.

The group also explored what moral support might be needed for those at the table and how culture connects land workers everywhere through story, song and dance.

By the end of the day most felt that a conversation had begun to offer a rich and deep perspective on why and for whom, before even considering the what and where.

There was strong sense that understanding the significance of the COP in relation to the bigger ‘moment’ is critical; that small performative interventions could influence values and offer new meaning.

It was humbling to feel the diversity and breadth of experience, knowledge, care and artforms in the room.  We hope to continue this dialogue soon – please keep an eye on the cop26-general or cop26-glasgowlocal lists on riseup,  ecoartscotland and the arts4cop26 group on Facebook for further information.

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Shelley Castle is an activist, mother and civic artist, and an active member of Culture Declares Climate and Ecological Emergency. Working across a variety of mediums and with multiple collaborators, her practice is underpinned by a fascination of biodiversity in all its forms.

Anne-Marie Culhane creates events, performances and long term projects that invite people into an active and enquiring relationship with each other and the land working as artist, activist and collaborator across a range of disciplines.

Lucy Neal is a theatre-maker and educator interested in how celebratory events act as a catalyst for change. A Co-founding Director of the London International Festival of Theatre (1981-’05), her work looks at how the arts inspire new ways of living within the ecological limits of a finite planet. She is author of Playing for Time: Making Art as if the World Mattered.

Ruth Ben-Tovim was not able to attend but is the fourth artist in Walking Forest, a project funded by the Arts Council of England as part of the Season for Change, a UK wide programme showcasing cultural leadership on climate action.

Walking Forest seeds a mycelium network of relationships led by women in the UK and internationally to initiate three site-specific public residencies and a large-scale mass participation event, potentially in Scotland and contributing a voice at COP26: whether at the table, engaging, ignoring or creatively disrupting.

Walking Forest concludes in 2028, with the planting of an intentional forest for Earth activists.  All four artists are part of Culture Declares Climate and Ecological Emergency – a growing global movement of ‘declare’ initiatives including local authorities, architects, musicians, lawyers and doctors.

For notes on the open meeting before Christmas co-hosted by ecoartscotland and Creative Carbon Scotland see here.

Green Tease for COP26 Glasgow

November 13, 2019

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ecoartscotland and Creative Carbon Scotland are collaborating to provide an opportunity to discuss the arrival of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP bandwagon in Glasgow in November 2020. The Green Tease will happen at Many Studios in Glasgow on Tues 10 December 6.30-8.30pm. See below for booking, schedule and address.

30,000 scientists, policy-makers and politicians (seriously, thirty thousand) will be in Glasgow for two weeks.

It will be in the news. It will jam traffic. There will be many news reports. There will be drama. Trump probably go to Turnberry instead. The organisers are apparently hiring cruise ships to provide additional accommodation because there is not enough hotel capacity in Glasgow.

How can we frame this event in the lead up to it?

Do we understand the specific issues that will be on the agenda?

How will the global South and those already living with the Climate crisis be heard?

What is the role of the arts and heritage?

How can we make it meaningful for people living in Scotland?

Can we engage the attendees usefully?

Once the spotlight moves on to the next place in the unfolding crisis (it’s beams are on Doncaster flooding and on New South Wales fires at this moment), how can we deepen our understanding of the living reality, so often not represented in the Policy?

COP and Cocktails is an opportunity to discuss what we might do, think about when it is useful to commission, to programme, to make as well as ‘what’.

Book your free place

Where?

The event will be held in the event space at MANY Studios, 3 Ross Street, Glasgow, G1 5AR. The venue is situated 15 minutes’ walk from Glasgow Central Station and St Enoch Subway station and a number of buses stop less than 1 minute’s walk away. The venue is situated on the ground floor and is wheelchair accessible.

Tuesday 10 December Schedule

6:30-7pm Drinks and mingling

7-7:30pm Presentations from various organisations about their plans for the COP, including:

  • ecoartscotland
  • Creative Carbon Scotland
  • Glasgow City Council
  • ClimateXChange
  • others to be announced…

7:30-8pm Discussion of what we would like to get out of the COP and how we can achieve it

8-8:30pm Drinks and mingling

For further information please contact Lewis Coenen-Rowe: lewis.coenen-rowe@creativecarbonscotland.com


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