“Humanity faces the combined catastrophes of climate change, a mass extinction of vital biodiversity and a degradation of ecosystems health everywhere,” said Lucy Neal, spokesperson for Culture Declares Emergency.
“This has now become an emergency situation because governments and industry have not shown the necessary leadership, and, so far, have not acted fast enough. Fortunately, humans are capable of responding in a remarkable variety of ways to accelerate climate solutions and adaptations, and culture can help stir up human response as well as creating new stories and visions for our world.”
As an Irish art culture worker extremely concerned with the ecological emergency that is unfolding around us, and knowing the culture sector in Ireland to date is not creating strategies commensurate with the situation, I have become a signatory to the first wave of a new global movement, #CultureDeclaresEmergency that is being launched across the world today. I am joining more than 180 leading UK arts and culture institutions and individuals will declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency
First “inspired by dozens of UK councils declaring Climate Emergencies – from Cornwall to Hull, from Mendip to London – members of the arts, culture and creative industries have decided to ask how their sector might respond collectively. They are now calling on the GLOBAL arts and cultural community to do its part in telling the truth about the climate and ecological crisis, and to take necessary action.”
“The declaration movement has been gaining pace internationally. It started with Climate Mobilization in the US and Australia, and is now promoted by Extinction Rebellion, Sunrise Movement and School Strike for Climate amongst others. The number of UK councils declaring is increasing all the time – including the Greater London Authority – with councils committing resources to tackling this emergency. Their declarations state they will work with civic partners, so this is where culture comes in.
Judy Ling-Wong CBE, Black Environment Network, commented: “It is really important that individuals feel powerful. They need to know that how they choose to live and what they think and say shapes the world.”
“To do this effectively they need the right information. Our future cannot be left to a few passionate specialist organisations or to governments that shape actions based on economics and not on the real threat to our future. We need everyone to play their part.”
If organisations and practitioners have creative or civic resources to contribute, such as meeting space, biodiverse places, skilled people, community partners, or innovative ideas and programmes, then declaration allows them to explain the contribution they can make. There is no more important way to express the value of arts and culture at this time.
In areas or councils where an emergency has been declared, organisations and people may be called upon by local people, politicians or funders to respond. But making your own declaration, as an organisation or as an individual, is a good place to start. If an area or council has not declared, culture can lead by example, using the power of declarations to inspire others to do the same.”
Culture Declares Emergency will launch on 3rd April 2019 with an artist-led ceremony. There will be a choreographed procession in London beginning at Somerset House, cross Waterloo Bridge, and move on to other arts institutions on the South bank of the river. At each location, Declarations of Emergency will be announced.
Mira Calix has composed a soundscape ‘Sonum Vocis Magnum Parvo’ for the procession, to be played on handbells and phones – download from this link
My pledge for #CultureDeclares Emergency
I, Cathy Fitzgerald declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency
I pledge to work with and support our community and local government in tackling this Emergency, and I call on others to do the same.
These are my intentions:
1. I will tell the Truth
Governments, and their public broadcasters and cultural agencies, must tell the truth about the Climate and Ecological Emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and communicate the urgency for far-reaching systemic change.
I will communicate with citizens and support them to discover the truth about the Emergency and the changes that are needed.
2. I will take Action
Governments must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce emissions to net zero and to reduce consumption levels.
I pledge to work towards reducing our emissions to net zero.
I will challenge policies and actions of local and national governments and their agencies, where we interact with them, that do not help to reduce emissions or consumption levels. I have recently written to the Irish government to argue that Ireland’s arts community needs strategy, educational and financial support to effectively engage with eco-social concerns, commensurate with the scale of the emergency.
I will actively work to imagine and model ways that my practice and teaching can regenerate the planet’s resources.
I am currently researching methods to offer ecoliteracy learning to arts workers at www.haumea.site
3. I am committed to Justice
The emergency has arisen from deeply systemic injustices. Arts and Culture can imagine and forge shifts in the ways we relate to one another and the world, in our values and behaviours.
I will do what is possible to enable dialogue and expression amidst our communities about how the Emergency will affect them and the changes that are needed.
I will support demands for more democracy within our civic institutions and government.
I believe that all truth-telling, action and democratic work must be underpinned by a commitment to justice based on intersectional principles, led by and for marginalised people.
The destruction of the Earth is a crime. It should be prosecuted.
I am part of Mission LifeForce, a growing international movement of Earth Protectors – inspired by Earth Lawyer Polly Higgins. I am part of a rapidly growing group of people who care about protecting the Earth – who are signatories to a legal document, the Earth Protectors Trust Fund document.
To protect the Earth by establishing ECOCIDE (ecosystem destruction) as a crime at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
To align the force of law with the force of life – bringing international law into alignment with a universally recognised moral code of respect, peace and a duty of care for all life. We all know in our hearts that serious harm to our Earth is wrong – it is already a matter of conscience. Now it is time to make it a matter of law. More info: https://www.missionlifeforce.org/mission-lifeforce
If you are equally concerned about this topic and wish to know more see:
Phone: +44(0) 7802865819 / +44(0)7986671716 / +44(0)7561098449 / +44(0)7479234522
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CultureDeclares #CultureDeclaresEmergency #InternationalRebellion
CDE 3 April launch event: https://www.facebook.com/events/444424099433828/
Why have we made the decision to declare?
In October 2018, the International Panel on Climate Change announced that there are only 12 years to make urgent and unprecedented changes. The way things stand now, we have only 1% chance of doing this, and only a 5% chance global average temperatures can be limited to less than 2 °Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels. The warnings of climate and ecological breakdown are all around:
There has been a gradual destabilisation of the climate due to the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, and in the last few decades this has accelerated. Droughts are getting longer and more severe, causing more scarcity of food and water. Extreme weather events are becoming more intense and destructive. Heatwaves are already magnifying the fire risk around the world and causing heat stress deaths. Widespread floods are escalating. Rising sea levels are threatening coastal and riverside settlements. Global temperatures have increased by 1 degree Celsius from pre-industrial levels. Atmospheric CO2 levels are above 400 parts per million (ppm), which far exceeds the pre-industrial base level of 280ppm.
In the past year, there are more signs that tipping points are being reached. In December it was reported that the rate of Greenland’s ice melt has quadrupled. Soon after, NASA discovered a huge cavern has opened up under Antarctica, and that a polar vortex destabilised sending freezing Arctic weather over the American mid-west whilst January was the warmest month in Australia, ever. In March, the UN reported that sharp temperature rises in the Arctic are inevitable, even if the Paris goals are met.
Human rights and justice
The Emergency includes rapidly rising inequality within and between nations, the deterioration of democracy and human rights, and conflicts over resources. This builds on centuries of historic injustices through racist colonial exploitation and annihilation of People of Colour and indigenous communities, appropriation of lands and extraction of natural resources. The world’s poorest 58% are responsible for only 14.5% of global CO2 emissions. The crisis – resulting from industrial practices and overconsumption by the richest – is worsening injustices faced by people in the Global South, indigenous land defenders in particular. Over time it will intensify inequalities experienced in every country.
There is also a generational justice issue. If we want people who are under the age of 20 to live a full life, we must stop burning fossil fuels now.
Although it is difficult to estimate, or to project future rates of loss as the Emergency worsens, already three species are lost to eternity each hour. In February, there were reports of a catastrophic decline in insect populations which will soon affect our food supplies. The Food and Agriculture Organisation has reported that 63% of plants, 11% of birds, and 5% of fish and fungi are in decline. There is a debilitating loss of soil biodiversity, forests, grasslands, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds and genetic diversity in crop and livestock species. Dead zones are growing in the oceans due to acidification and warming.
The main causes of ecological breakdown are: intensive agriculture with its use of chemicals; deforestation for logging, biofuels and livestock rearing; growing urbanisation and transport infrastructure; over-exploitation of water; over-harvesting and wildlife poaching; invasive species and diseases; pollution; and the burning of fossil fuels and climate change.
UK Press Release
Media invitation: 9am Wed 3 April, London – Culture to Declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency
More than 180 leading UK arts and culture institutions and individuals will declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency
Culture Declares Emergency – a group of concerned individuals and institutions of the arts, culture and creative organisations – invites you to join them at 9am on Wednesday 3 April at Somerset House for a beautifully curated and disruptive horse-led procession, with words and declarations to be made at cultural locations along the river Thames.
More than 170 institutions and individuals are declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency, including The Royal Court, writer Jay Griffiths, director Peter Kosminsky, Jerwood Arts and Invisible Dust. The full list of institutions and individuals will be revealed on the day.
Living grass coats grown by Visual Artists Ackroyd and Harvey and a newly composed soundscape by Mira Calix, feature in this ceremony of declarations of Planetary Emergency as well as previews of Letters To The Earth, writing submitted by the general public for a nationwide cultural action taking place on 12 April.
Inspired by Extinction Rebellion and the global School Strike For Climate, Culture Declares Emergency is organising a range of events in the run up to International Rebellion, which begins Monday 15 April.
The procession will stop at different cultural locations along the route including Somerset House, Waterloo Bridge, the National Theatre and the horse-led procession will enter Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall before concluding at the Globe Theatre
Order of the event
Ceremony begins at 9:15am
- Procession starts at 9:30am and will stop traffic to make its way over Waterloo Bridge
- 10:00am Southbank Centre
- 10:15 National Theatre
- 11:00 Tate Modern
- 11:30 Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
- 12:00 Ends
Looking forward to hearing from you. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Culture Declares Launch’ in the subject line.
For background information, do check out the Culture Declares Emergency website at https://sites.google.com/view/culturedeclaresemergency/
See you soon!
Culture Declares Emergency media team
+44(07802865819) / +44 (0) 7760280443 / +44 (0) 7986671716 / +44 (0) 7944894190 / +44 (0) 7722007566 / +44 (0) 7479234522
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