I used to enjoy attending climate conferences, but now I just go through the motions.
(Thanks. I’m here all week.)
There was a vile rumour circulating not so very long ago, August in fact, that the nuclear industry was not welcome in the Green Zone at Glasgow’s upcoming climate shindig, COP26. To sceptics this probably came as no surprise, as we are very well aware that the nuclear industry was in fact the first defeated foe of the same green activists who subsequently defeated coal and are presently well on the way to a Pyrrhic victory over gas. There is no world in which (sorry, Michael Shellenberger) these activists will ever, ever, be okay with the restoration of the first villain they cast down. Nevertheless I rather assumed that the story was an exaggeration, something and nothing, picked up by a sceptic blog or two and used as mere clickbait. After all, the activists don’t run the conference, hey?
…15 applications from nuclear-related bodies, including trade and research associations, are understood to have been rejected by Mr Sharma’s Cop26 Unit in the Cabinet Office. They included an application involving the World Nuclear Association, which represents the global nuclear industry, to put on an exhibition featuring a life-size model of a nuclear reactor.The Telegraph
There was a lot of bluster in the response by Sharma’s minions: the list of exhibits had not been finalised, etc. It was on my list of things to do to check out the story and disprove it to myself once the dust had settled, and the list of exhibits had been finalised. Of course the nuclear industry would be welcome at COP26, because we are interested in actual solutions to an (alleged) excess of CO2 in the atmosphere, and as it goes nuclear is about the only reliable electricity source that has no or low CO2 emissions in operation. (Obviously hydroelectricity fits this bill too, but the easy dams have already been built). Nuclear is a potential solution worthy of the name, a solution which the climate alarmists and climate sceptics can at least agree on as a way to radically reduce emissions from electricity without the risk of the lights going out. It might be expensive. But still.
So what is happening in the Green Zone, sponsored by Unilever etc?
“From 1-12 November the COP26 Green Zone in Glasgow is open to the public to shine a light on the amazing and diverse world of climate action.
From all over the globe, youth activists, Indigenous Peoples, small and large businesses and grass roots communities will be bringing COP26 to life with cultural performances, exhibitions, talks, film screenings and technical demonstrations, all open to the public. Located in the iconic Glasgow Science Centre, on the south bank of the River Clyde, the Green Zone will welcome visitors from 9am – 6pm each day.
Over 200 events will take place in the Green Zone over the 12 days of the summit. Tickets will be available free of charge to the public.”COP26
It’s already sounding like somewhere Jimmy Neutron is going to feel a little out of place even if he’s actually allowed in. But is he even allowed in? Excellent question, to be answered in due course. But let’s first have a look at some of the “events” that are planned so you can check for space in your diaries. I’ve only highlighted a few of the most important; the entire list is at the link below the Green Zone summary.
Monday 1st November:
Poets for the Planet and Imperial College London present Earthsong: science-inspired poetry against climate change
What is it? “Award-winning poets and spoken word artists from around the world have been matched with researchers from Imperial College London and beyond studying the causes, effects of, and solutions to climate change.”
1-2pm in Tower Base North, if you’re interested.
Citizens from the Global Assembly present their proposals
1-3.30pm in the Cinema Auditorium. Dang, that’s a diary clash! What to do?
What is it? “Join the people involved in the Global Citizens’ Assembly to find out more about how a snapshot of the world population is being brought together to learn and deliberate on the climate and ecological crisis.”
Musicians In Exile
3-4pm Tower Base North
What is it? “Musicians in Exile, Glasgow’s asylum seeking and refugee musicians, perform their homelands’ music, with new songs created for COP26 about climate change’s impact on refugees.”
There is more vital stuff on the Monday too, though I don’t have space here to mention it.
Tuesday 2nd November:
RSNO Junior Chorus
What is it? “Join one of the UK’s leading children and youth choirs for a performance of songs inspired by climate change.”
The Farewell Glacier by Nick Drake
12.30-13.30 Tower Base North
What is it? “Join us for a journey into the mysteries, wonders and climate emergencies of the high Arctic.” [No. Not that Nick Drake, a different one. The one you’re thinking of is deceased.]
Visualising Climate: Young People’s Responses to the Climate Emergency
13.30-14.30 Science Show Theatre
What is it? “This session seeks to empower the generation who will be most impacted by the effects of climate change.”
The Need to Be Cold
15.30-17.00 Tower Base South
What is it? “A conversation and artistic intervention on the effects of global warming that threaten the livelihood of Indigenous peoples in the arctic region.”
Look, I’m going to have to stop pulling out the highlights after Day 2 because this thing goes on until November 12th and there is just isn’t space here to do it justice. Here are a few of the more important events over the 12 days:
- Fear of the Green Planet (“Fear of the Green Planet is a multimedia and participatory music project by Co-Founder of May Project Gardens and Artist KMT Freedom Teacher; permeating the whole-systems thinking that permaculture inspires.”) [Note to the runners of this show (I can’t work out what their name(s) is/are): the title should have been “Fear of a Green Planet” if you were trying to reference the 1990 album “Fear of a Black Planet” by Public Enemy.]
- Corey Baker Dance Presents: Renewable Moves (“Movement is fueled, and inspired, by renewable energy in this new dance experience from multi-award winning choreographer, filmmaker and director Corey Baker. Renewable Moves harnesses the urgency of the moves we must all collectively make towards renewable energy.”)
- Climate justice, education and gender equality: targeting the connections
- OwnIt: Empowering women to use their money for the climate Partner organisations: Friends of the Earth, Enrol Yourself, Ethex and Energise Africa
- NATURE AIN’T A LUXURY – Why Young Black & Brown People feel alienated from Nature in the UK & the West Presented by Artist & Musician Louis VI
- The Political Participation of Young Migrant Women in the Pursuit of Climate Justice
- Unlocking Climate Solutions: From the Pacific Islands to the Arctic, why Indigenous knowledge must take centre stage.
- The role of gender equality in decarbonising transport
- Walk in Beauty: Future Dreaming through Indigenous Knowledges [sic] and Western Science
- Not without us! – Pathways to a gender just transition
- Earth observation-based innovation by and for Indigenous women for climate change adaptation
- A conversion [sic] with Fridays for Future- Meet the Youth Activists from around the world
- Migrant Justice = Climate Justice
- Accelerating Electric Mobility with green jobs and gender parity
- Red River Poetry: Listening to a Polluted River
- Talking about Our Generation: putting younger generations in charge of the switch to sustainable energy & transportation
- Disability, Resilience and Inclusion in our Cities – inclusive design and community-led urban solutions for disability-inclusive climate resilience
- The nexus between Gender-based climate adaptation and localisation – Lessons from Indonesia
- Climate, in the Visceral Sense. An Ongoing Story in Three Acts (“How does this moment feel? The last 18 months has taught us something: that over-intellectualizing crisis after crisis in our heads is very different to experiencing it for ourselves – to feel it hitting us in our hearts, in our real lives, in our collective consciousness.”)
- Climate Change Catastrophe! A new show about climate change. Made by kids, for grown-ups.
Many of the COP26 Green Zone events exist at the nexus of one of gender / indigenous people / youth and the seemingly orthogonal matter of climate change. All of these are very important policy areas, and you will not find me disputing that. But a cynic might wonder whether these organisations are really worried about climate change at all, or if instead they would like to ride climate change’s coat-tails to greater success in whatever their real aims are. It gives me the strange sense that the person making the decisions about which applications to let through was desperate to ensure no valid questions about inclusivity could be raised about their choices: as if they had a lot of boxes they needed to tick, and actual relevance to our present “existential crisis” was a secondary consideration.
Okay, so you are probably getting the feeling that the events are a little bit too worthy for my taste. So far the Green Zone is more “WOMAD-on-Clyde” than “How do we prevent our imminent destruction?” What about the exhibits themselves? Are there any nuclear displays? Did the life-sized model of a nuclear reactor squeak in?
Seemingly not. The only display clearly about nuclear energy I can find relates to fusion, not fission:
Fusion Energy (UKAEA, First Light Fusion, Tokamak Energy)
Well, that will certainly be interesting at least. Presumably they are there hoping to use the event as a chance to suck up some funding for this hopefully-maybe-one day energy. (I assume the attitude of green activists to nuclear fusion is as negative as it is to nuclear fission.) I suspect that even the inclusion of fusion was at the last minute, because its entry on the pdf listing the exhibits is the only one that does not have black typeface – it has been cut and pasted from elsewhere and the document author did not ctrl-A / font colour black as a natural precaution against greys slipping in.
The 11 corporate sponsors have their stalls of course (“innovative spaces and experiences”, I mean):
GlaxoSmithKline, Hitachi, Microsoft, National Grid, Natwest Group, Reckitt, Sainsburys, Scottish Power, SSE, Sky and Unilever.
And 10 companies will be displaying their latest electric / fuel cell vehicles:
DAF Trucks, Ford, Global System Mobile Association (GSMA), JCB, Mini, Oceanways, Polestar, Rolls-Royce, Switch Mobility and Wrightbus.
Including those 21, there will be about 60 exhibitors for the duration, plus 8 temporary exhibits on each of the 12 days for another almost 100. There is room among them for The Cultural Sanctuaries Foundation and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland – but nothing from the nuclear industry, unless its presence is hidden in one of the more cryptic organisation names: “Nexus Vision,” “C Team,” “Practical Action,” etc. (O no. I’ve just spotted that Lancet Countdown, those most miserable of misinterpreters of good data to make it spell doom, have a space for a day.)
Is the weighty peripheral baggage attached to COP26 evidence that climate change is not actually that serious? Imagine a giant space rock was detected hurtling towards Earth, and the countries of the world gathered to decide what to do. We could call the meeting ROC1 (there would not be a ROC26). Would there be an adjacent Green Zone presenting cultural perspectives, gender-based solutions, indigenous wisdom, interpretive dance, and discussions about how children might be put in charge of the operation to deflect/survive the oncoming cataclysm? I submit not. COP26 may therefore be accused of not taking climate change seriously as an existential threat.
Featured image: a Miocene crocodile’s coprolite by jsj1771. CC2.0.