COP 27 – Prophets of DOOM, or Prophets of HOPE?
I say ditch the DOOM and all associated F Words; replace with HOPE & P Words – practical partnerships, ordinary people & performances
As all eyes turn to Egypt, let’s think about which can make the most difference … world leaders talking £s and gloom, weighed against the impact that a single Eco-Warrier, a group of young activists or a big music event can have.
No one imagined, one year ago, the mega changes that were soon to occur in the world after Cop 26 shut down in Scotland. War in Europe, energy crisis, spiraling prices and recession – today it is all too easy to say ‘well, now we obviously can’t do that and we can’t do this.’ As we hear the worst possible predictions from the UN Secretary General, even a hint of such excuses is generating a rush of fury and frustration.
Rishi Sunak went dangerously close to the cliff-edge and I really thought he was going to pull out all those excuses. He seems to have saved himself, once he actually made it to Egypt after the initial shilly-shallying, by renewing the UK’s commitment to financial promises made 12 months ago (find it in full on Gov.uk website) –
“The United Kingdom is delivering on our commitment of £11.6 billion. And as part of this – we will now triple our funding on adaptation to £1.5 billion by 2025.
Let me tell you why. First, I profoundly believe it is the right thing to do. Listen to Prime Minister Mottley of Barbados, as she describes the existential threat posed by the ravages of climate change.
Or look at the devastating floods in Pakistan… where the area underwater is the same size as the whole United Kingdom. When you see 33 million people displaced, with disease rife and spreading through the water, you know it is morally right to honour our promises.
But it is also economically right too. Climate security goes hand in hand with energy security. Putin’s abhorrent war in Ukraine and rising energy prices across the world are not a reason to go slow on climate change. They are a reason to act faster, because diversifying our energy supplies by investing in renewables is precisely the way to insure ourselves against the risks of energy dependency. It is also a fantastic source of new jobs and growth.”
If Sunak believes in his own message, then he and his government surely must step up the pace of facilitating and encouraging renewable investment and rewards, across the board. The only decision I am aware he has taken in the right direction, thus far, is to turn his back on fracking. That is just not enough, he needs to announce big, bold new schemes such as for tidal, all around our coast.
Picking up on one element above, the phrase ‘funding on adaptation’ may need interpretation for you – The Adaptation Fund is a financial instrument under the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol (KP) and has been established to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries of the KP, in an effort to reduce the adverse effects of climate change they are facing.
The World Wildlife Fund poster below is saying more or less the same, in simpler terms.
As I see it, the problem here is a concept that thinks only government funding from developed countries is capable of supporting these adaptation projects in the Southern Hemisphere, when we really need to generate money and practical support from a far wider range of sources, private investment but also multiple small contributions of ordinary people. This was the point when I started to remember that music might be another way, for a major injection of funds.
The music industry model
How much money did Live Aid produce at a time of disaster? I looked it up and in 1985 the Live Aid event raised more than $125 million in famine relief for Africa – a triumph of technology and good will. With Live Aid as starting point, I have begun promoting plans for a new, massive performance event where music, drumming and dance can lift the mood and be followed through with practical solutions to inspire, not just once but repeated and renewed annually. I have started to share this concept, talking first with Cornwall participants especially Eden Project, but then more widely across the UK through a little film called ‘Message of Meadow Barns to Cop 27’.
The youth & community performance model
As well as Live Aid, in the back of my mind is the very first time I worked in partnership with Eden exactly 20 years ago. In the early days of New Labour, we got quite a generous amount of Youth Music funding, which enabled us to recruit a small army of talented music leaders and 8 to 12 year olds for our county-wide programme of Junior Bands. At the end of the project, I was so fired up by the building of Eden – a local quarry pit with its iconic biomes on my doorstep – that I planned and delivered a colourful, lively ‘Eden Invasion’ show, with positivity at its heart.
I knew that after the main content about herbs and spices we needed a Finale with an upbeat style and message and eventually found it in a song from the most tacky, inappropriate film called ‘Thunderpants!!’ No matter why it was composed, the words and musical style were absolutely spot on for empowering young people –
‘We’re going all the way, no matter what they say we won’t give up, we won’t give in, we’re on our way’.
Candles for the Climate – every event different
Although Live Aid involved big names in the pop industry strutting stages in high summer, my vision is for millions of young people, in youth clubs, schools, churches and sports organisations, to create and perform their own version of a ‘show’ about climate change in the depths of our UK winter. This is an almost empty time in the calendar, with long dark nights, short grey days and acknowledged to be the worst moment for low morale/ Seasonal Affective Disorder. That’s why I think it could work best if we revolve the event around light and candles, but – despite the front cover image you see below – it can be done under any religious banner or none, just secular.
I made this short film to explain the idea and let people hear samples from a collection of songs, which a church or school might enjoy preparing.
Cop 27 The film – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGl8ob1bciU
Although I am not a believer, this first version of words and music reflects the nature of our rural village communities, where schools and churches often collaborate. There is scope for 7 groups telling about the 7 Climate Zones and adding whatever other songs they like. The idea is that this be seen as a flexible blueprint, that can be developed and amended over the years, for other faiths or none and performing in all kinds of venues – mosques, museums, theatres, factories or outdoors.
Performance for Protesters
How can this idea of a Climate Festival (I don’t want the word Aid in there), help turn the despair and anger of young people into something positive? Who should we invite to be involved? The furious and frustrated folks climbing on gantries above motorways in the cause of Just Stop Oil, the gloomy Greta Thunberg, Prince William and his Foundation, our new King? Anybody with a strong desire to be active and make a difference.
One essential ingredient, clearly, will be musicians and Eden’s Sir Tim Smit, with his music industry experience, comes to mind at once.
Smit, Geldof, Waterman, Womad, Glasto? Who can take this forward?
On 6th November in a really excellent interview feature, by journalist Harry de Quetteville for the Daily Telegraph, Sir Tim’s fury zings off the page. Many thanks to Harry for permission to quote from the article here (in italics).
Using multiple F words and other expletives, Sir Tim rages about COP 27 with the headline
‘Shut the F*** up about climate’.
‘Precious little gets done at Cop 27. It’s just first-world willy-waving’
Sir Tim wants us to view the changes needed in a different way, which connects more closely with what is happening in our local spaces. To quote:- The very term “climate change” has become disconnected from its effects around us, and connected instead with diktats. “We have to take the whole debate away from climate change and people being blamed,” he says, and instead reframe the debate about “how can we preserve these marvellous creatures? So, let’s find another language about this – start to make the narrative about the loss of the variety of life.” He wants conservation to be about the tangible, the breathable: air, soil, water. “Those should be our birth-right. It should be treasonous for people to pollute those. Shut the f— up about climate.”
Certainly Sir Tim has an excellent track record in making things happen and securing the finance required to enable these environmental projects at scale.
(There is much more in the article, including about the local Gillyflower Orchard developments, should you want to find it – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/11/06/eden-projects-sir-tim-smit-need-stop-lecturing-people-climate/)
Beyond the glamour and glitz of a tourist-orientated operation, what might not be so well-known is that Eden does superbly well at encouraging academic work, apprenticeships and training. The MSc students that come and stay at Meadow Barns are acquiring a wealth of knowledge and putting it into practice in the field of environmental restoration.
If you go to this page and scroll down, the full detail of the new Eden Project offspring developments is there.
Or just read these headlines:-
I am with Sir Tim completely on one thing, and that is connecting more closely with the practical side of life, what is happening on the ground. That’s why I am putting forward the idea of climate buddies, sending each other information online but also anything practical that can help. For instance, for a flood emergency zone we could probably send a big pack of wellies and tarpaulins. Come to think of it, Shelter Box, a charity which started in Cornwall, does this already. And that is a really nice, positive note to draw this section to a close. https://shelterbox.org/climate-change-hub/
A final point to make, if you are local to Meadow Barns, I hope you will send an email or PM at the Luxulyan Valley Stories page, to register for the Big Green Adventure coming up on TUESDAY next, November 15th. Whilst there, notice the last section … tea and buns, or beer and crisps, as we discuss future heritage restoration in the pub!