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How to be a COPtimist


What started as a conversation over lunch turned into a commitment from world leading filmmakers, fashion designers, musicians, actors, producers and others to the Creative Climate Coalition, presented by Alison Tickell, of Julie’s Bicycle, at COP 21 in Paris. In making this pledge, these signatories were indicating the imperative for collective agreement for action on climate change by governments from across the world.

What had seemed impossible in previous COPs, now became a reality. What was different this time was that millions of individuals and many thousands of communities were expressing their sense of humanity, drawing on belief and value systems from religious, cultural, creative perspectives. The rational, scientific, factual elements of climate change and the assessment of risk have long since been established; this time it was about the will for change. As designers, arts educators and fashion practitioners, we realized that in convening an exchange between fashion, music, film, theatre, T.V. and other expressions of our humanity, we mark that will through our collective culture-making activities.

The first expression of this collective was visualized last week, at the conference ‘How to a COPtimist: Culture, Creativity and COP21,’ where over 200 representatives of the coalition came together to contemplate what the Anthropocene questions about our sense of being human. The event was opened by Deborah Bull, assistant principle at King’s College London, who gave a inspiring introduction to the afternoon, and contextualized the importance of the arts in the debate around climate change, explaining that ‘artists encourage innovation and new ways of thinking; creativity drives invention; art can convey complex ideas more easily than science.’ This idea that art can be used to make understandable the ideas and concepts that are often inaccessible was a central trope of the whole day, and a call-to-action to the artists in the room.

As Patrick Degeorges, from the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Energy and Development, reflected,  ‘we need a conversion to a symbiotic way of living,’ a sentiment also explored by Baroness Lola Young, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion, drawing on the fact that balance comes from diversity, a sorely lacking dimension in many realms of life – the climate change community itself not yet representing the right range of voices. Live streamed and receiving comments from around the world did, however enable a broad geographic representation, with friends as far away as California telling us of decisions to change how we educate taking place around the world.

The Paris agreement acts as a plumbline, but it will not steady us until we learn to live in gentle step together, to listen well to the rhythms of life and to look and live better. It’s our time, as the meaning makers as well as the problem solvers, to balance the creative alongside the rational response to COP 21. We are now making plans, as founding partners of the Creative Climate Coalition, alongside BAFTA’s Albert, Julie’s Bicycle and D&AD, to find ways for us to create a symbiotic exchange, under the premise that the WE is always stronger than the I.

Please note this is an archive blog.


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