Declaring A Climate and Ecological Emergency

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I’m grateful to Culture Declares Emergency for the following text which I’ve taken from their Website and adapted/personalised.

I, James Aldridge, Artist and Consultant declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency

I pledge to work with and support my community in tackling this Emergency, and 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. Together we will explore our hopes, fears and the actions that we can support each other to take.

2. I will take Action

Governments must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels.

Transport

I pledge to reduce my emissions wherever possible, and support others to do the same. I will stop flying, will travel to meetings and other events on public transport wherever possible, and source an electric vehicle for when I need to transport materials/artwork.

Subject Matter of Artwork

As an artist working with people and places, my focus is on experiencing connection with each other and the more than human world, supporting learning and identifying positive action, through art.

I will actively work to imagine and model ways that arts practice can support the regeneration of the planet’s resources, and benefit personal and planetary welbeing.

Language

I will explore and consciously use written/spoken language that focuses attention on our place within the Biosphere, the need to reduce consumption, and on active regeneration rather than sustaining existing ways of living.

Materials/Equipment

I will source materials and maintain equipment in ways that limit waste and promote recycling/repair.

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. My participatory work focuses on providing for the needs of each individual and supporting them to develop a sense of identity through relationship with the wider world.

I am developing new climate-specific strands of work, where I can enable others to share their hopes and fears for the future, in a supportive, creative environment.

I will support demands for more democracy within our civic institutions and government, and provide opportunities for the voices of communities and especially young people, to be heard.

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.

(Declaration ends)

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Why have I made this decision?

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.

Climate breakdown

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.

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.

Ecological breakdown

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.

What can we do?

Tackling the Climate and Ecological Emergency, its systemic causes and its unjust impacts should be the overriding priority of every politician, and to which all available resources should be immediately directed. Until they do, anyone who is able to must call for this, to communicate that sense of Emergency to others, to advocate for those unable to participate fully in civic life, and to push for the action that it demands.

Could you get involved?

If you are thinking about Declaring an Emergency as an individual or organisation, see Why Declare on the Culture Declares Emergency website to find out more, and Why Culture on the specific role that we in the cultural sector can play.

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