Yearly Archives: 2009

Arcola Theatre: setting a standard for resourcefulness?

Kudos to London’s Arcola Theatre for the announcement of their new plan to further green the theatre, putting sustainability at the centre of its work. The impressive thing about Ben Todd and his team at Arcola’s plan is it’s not just about bricks and mortar – though they do have the support of Arup’s sustainability experts on that; it’s about successfully integrating the theatre into the wider enviroment as a kind of signpost for more fundamental change. As Todd said in the launch document: “Wrapped around the main stage will be dynamic spaces to accommodate our ever-growing environmental sustainability and community engagement programmes.”

And the other, even more impressive thing, is that they’re putting much better funded arts institutions to shame with their implementation of this plan.

I’ve just been sent the book Theatre Materials, edited by Eleanor Margolies. There’s a good quote in there from Todd from the original Theatre Materials conference back in the spring about why theatre can be so successful at these initiatives – something that really fits with ourDesign team’s ideas of resourcefulnes:

“There is a big fear that theatre can’t go green because it costs too much money, but theatre has always operated with minimal resources. Theatre people are incredibly resourceful and theatre has always proven that it can operate with very little money. Theatre knows how to get things done.”

Let’s do the show right here, folks!

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

In Case You’re Wondering what it means #COP15

Here is a good summary of points from

The Copenhagen Accord contains these provisions that President Obama called a start to global action to solve climate change:

1) A commitment by developed nations to invest $30 billion over the next three years to help developing nations adapt to climate change and pursue clean energy development.

2) A provisional commitment by developed nations to develop a long-term $100 billion global fund by 2020 to assist developing nations in responding to climate change and become part of the clean energy economic transition.

3) A goal to pursue emissions reductions that are sufficient to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius.

4) Pledges by nations to commit to concrete emissions reductions, though the specific levels of reduction were not set.

5) A general goal to subject participating countries to international review of their progress under the accord.

6) Diplomatic space for the United States and China to work together to solve climate change. A commitment to complete an assessment of the effectiveness of the accord in reducing emissions by the end of 2015.

Full Article HERE

Copenhagen Accord – Full Draft Text (updated) #COP15

CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES Fifteenth session Copenhagen, 7.18 December 2009

Agenda item 9 High-level segment

Draft decision -/CP.15
Proposal by the President
Copenhagen Accord
The Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers, and other heads of delegation present at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen, In pursuit of the ultimate objective of the Convention as stated in its Article 2, Being guided by the principles and provisions of the Convention, Noting the results of work done by the two Ad hoc Working Groups, Endorsing decision x/CP.15 on the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action and decision x/CMP.5 that requests the Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments of Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol to continue its work, Have agreed on this Copenhagen Accord which is operational immediately.

  1. We underline that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. We emphasise our strong political will to urgently combat climate change in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. To achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention to stabilize greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, we shall, recognizing the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius, on the basis of equity and in the context of sustainable development, enhance our long-term cooperative action to combat climate change. We recognize the critical impacts of climate change and the potential impacts of response measures on countries particularly vulnerable to its adverse effects and stress the need to establish a comprehensive adaptation programme including international support.
  2. We agree that deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science, and as documented by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report with a view to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, and take action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity. We should cooperate in achieving the peaking of global and national emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that the time frame for peaking will be longer in developing countries and bearing in mind that social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries and that a low-emission development strategy is indispensable to sustainable development.
  3. Adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change and the potential impacts of response measures is a challenge faced by all countries. Enhanced action and international cooperation on adaptation is urgently required to ensure the implementation of the Convention by enabling and supporting the implementation of adaptation actions aimed at reducing vulnerability and building resilience in developing countries, especially in those that are particularly vulnerable, especially least developed countries, small island developing States and Africa. We agree that developed countries shall provide adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, technology and capacity-building to support the implementation of adaptation action in developing countries.
  4. Annex I Parties commit to implement individually or jointly the quantified economy-wide emissions targets for 2020, to be submitted in the format given in Appendix I by Annex I Parties to the secretariat by 31 January 2010 for compilation in an INF document. Annex I Parties that are Party to the Kyoto Protocol will thereby further strengthen the emissions reductions initiated by the Kyoto Protocol. Delivery of reductions and financing by developed countries will be measured, reported and verified in accordance with existing and any further guidelines adopted by the Conference of the Parties, and will ensure that accounting of such targets and finance is rigorous, robust and transparent.
  5. Non-Annex I Parties to the Convention will implement mitigation actions, including those to be submitted to the secretariat by non-Annex I Parties in the format given in Appendix II by 31 January 2010, for compilation in an INF document, consistent with Article 4.1 and Article 4.7 and in the context of sustainable development. Least developed countries and small island developing States may undertake actions voluntarily and on the basis of support. Mitigation actions subsequently taken and envisaged by Non-Annex I Parties, including national inventory reports, shall be communicated through national communications consistent with Article 12.1(b) every two years on the basis of guidelines to be adopted by the Conference of the Parties. Those mitigation actions in national communications or otherwise communicated to the Secretariat will be added to the list in appendix II. Mitigation actions taken by Non-Annex I Parties will be subject to their domestic measurement, reporting and verification the result of which will be reported through their national communications every two years. Non-Annex I Parties will communicate information on the implementation of their actions through National Communications, with provisions for international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines that will ensure that national sovereignty is respected. Nationally appropriate mitigation actions seeking international support will be recorded in a registry along with relevant technology, finance and capacity building support. Those actions supported will be added to the list in appendix II. These supported nationally appropriate mitigation actions will be subject to international measurement, reporting and verification in accordance with guidelines adopted by the Conference of the Parties.
  6. We recognize the crucial role of reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation and the need to enhance removals of greenhouse gas emission by forests and agree on the need to provide positive incentives to such actions through the immediate establishment of a mechanism including REDD-plus, to enable the mobilization of financial resources from developed countries.
  7. We decide to pursue various approaches, including opportunities to use markets, to enhance the cost-effectiveness of, and to promote mitigation actions. Developing countries, especially those with low emitting economies should be provided incentives to continue to develop on a low emission pathway.
  8. Scaled up, new and additional, predictable and adequate funding as well as improved access shall be provided to developing countries, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, to enable and support enhanced action on mitigation, including substantial finance to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD-plus), adaptation, technology development and transfer and capacity-building, for enhanced implementation of the Convention. The collective commitment by developed countries is to provide new and additional resources, including forestry and investments through international institutions, approaching USD 30 billion for the period 2010 . 2012 with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation. Funding for adaptation will be prioritized for the most vulnerable developing countries, such as the least developed countries, small island developing States and Africa. In the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, developed countries commit to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. This funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance. New multilateral funding for adaptation will be delivered through effective and efficient fund arrangements, with a governance structure providing for equal representation of developed and developing countries. A significant portion of such funding should flow through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund.
  9. To this end, a High Level Panel will be established under the guidance of and accountable to the Conference of the Parties to study the contribution of the potential sources of revenue, including alternative sources of finance, towards meeting this goal.
  10. We decide that the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund shall be established as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention to support projects, programme, policies and other activities in developing countries related to mitigation including REDD-plus, adaptation, capacity-building, technology development and transfer.
  11. In order to enhance action on development and transfer of technology we decide to establish a Technology Mechanism to accelerate technology development and transfer in support of action on adaptation and mitigation that will be guided by a country-driven approach and be based on national circumstances and priorities.
  12. We call for an assessment of the implementation of this Accord to be completed by 2015, including in light of the Convention.s ultimate objective. This would include consideration of strengthening the long-term goal referencing various matters presented by the science, including in relation to temperature rises of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Quantified economy-wide emissions targets for 2020
Annex I Parties Quantified economy-wide emissions targets for 2020 Emissions reduction in 2020 Base year

Nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing country Parties
Non-Annex I Actions

#COP15 Political Wrap Up

It is now December 19th, the day after COP15 was intended to end. It didn’t though. It went well on into the the night. I stayed up watching the live feed until a recess was called around 4 a.m. However, I was able to get the idea.

We’re not there… yet?

That is perhaps one of the most bizarrely intended phrases I’ve ever written. Did we get a deal? Sort of. Did we get the deal we wanted (and mind you I’ll refer to everyone with this use of “we”)? No, no one got what they wanted. Is there hope that there might be a future for political action on this issue? I think so, but we must match that with our feelings of failure.

Sigh… Failure.

That’s a bit of what we’re left with. This failure has been attributed to the strong arm tactics of the United States and our president, Mr. Obama. But, I don’t think it looks like our fault. I do think it looks like our (I’m speaking as a citizen of the United States) political system: big, unwieldy, dispersed and slow.

And so it should be to some extent. If we were to railroad it through as a 350 ppm agreement, would everyone suddenly have been happy? No. Sadly, of course, very sadly, no. It is what is ecologically necessary, if not, as I would hope could be pointed out, almost generous as a target. But, I’m on the environmental side. I work in the realm of the arts and typically non-profits/NGOs (Or a hybrid like the CSPA). I could probably get pigeon holed as a leftist activist and you wouldn’t be far off. But, there are other people, who are not like me, in the world. And, despite my spite, I need to respect them and what they want/need (Or, what I, in my bias, will say is what they think they need, but only actually, acutely, want).

Do I give credence to the Rushes of the world who claim that global climate change is a hoax? No, and you may have noticed that to diffuse that, I refer to it as ‘climate change’ and not ‘global warming’. In that early morning recess I listened to some clip talking about how climate change is a great world-wide conspiracy against capitalism and the United States. Which of course is like saying that the peace movement is un-american. No, it’s not, it’s ultimately without nationality. But as McLuhan said, all violence is about threats to identity.

Rush Limbaugh’s Right-Wing America-centric identity is threatened by  taking a worldwide view. The Danish Police, ordered to keep order, have their identity threatened by dis-order, the masses of people coming towards them together. Demonstrators (predominately, but not exclusively peaceful ones) see the locked doors of the Bella Center and the police surrounding it as a threat to their identities. Developing nations see their unequal share of the climate change issue as a threat to their (developing) identity. Low-lying countries see rising tides as a threat to their identity perhaps most drastically.

If we act on the violence, if we don’t seek balance, we’re lost. And trying to get a lot of people to agree on something that is balanced, though rarely entirely fair, is not only hard and time consuming, but very American. The conflicted American attitude that oscillates between leadership and isolation consumes more than 300,000,000 people.

More than 50 times as many people, through unequal representation (favoring the big, rich nations on financial backing of political will and favoring the small, poor nations on per capita representation), are conflicted right now between self-interest and common identity, both reinforced and condemned by their peers. If anything, this isn’t an anti-american conspiracy, it’s an americanization of global politics. Our experiment in democracy, in which we’ve tied everyone’s hands to move forward quickly is binding the world together. And it follows, that people will be angry with us, as we’re a threat to their identity and individual will. Not through our strong arming, but our entropic nature. And if you think about it that way, Obama showed up to do what we hired him to do at home, set an agenda and get things moving. He is a powerfully positioned political man, with very little ability to make unilateral change anywhere. I’ve found myself explaining this to many people here, Obama doesn’t do much directly. No president of the USA does, no individual leader in a democracy does.

Anyway, it was dizzying to me to think we could negotiate anything that works for anyone in 2 weeks when we’re trying to protect billions of lives. And we didn’t. We failed. We failed in trying to get the entire planet to move together. It’s a 6 Billion + 2 legged (a second one on either end) race with ourselves. We’re all lined up at the starting line together. And the, pardon the stereotypes, Kenyan marathon runner is tied to the next contestant on “The Bigger Loser”, who is tied to somebody on crutches.

If we want to get anywhere, we need to figure out how to move together. We didn’t do that in Copenhagen. Instead we sort of figured out how to figure out working together. And there were so many people ready to go, we’ve got some forward momentum. We’re getting closer and closer to critical mass, where it’s not about what’s preventing us from getting go, but what if anything could prevent us from stopping. We’re over coming (and I do mean to say we are doing, not trying) a whole lot of inertia. COP15 failed, but Copenhagen succeeded in bring more and more of the world together, even if we are extremely disappointed (let us not at all downplay this) that this wasn’t enough to tip things in our (unfortunately that refers to everyone, even the climate deniers) direction. We’ll only feel we were successful when the COP comes with us.

Shame on anyone who says we’re going to get things to change at Cop16. Shame, because it’s not going to happen at COP16, it’s going to happen now. Every diplomat prepared to not let the Copenhagen Accord rest, every reporter, NGO and activist inside and locked out of the Bella Center, every climate action, every tweet with #COP15 trending, they are all going to continue without waiting for a year. We all got a chance to be in the same place, at the same time, break bread and see who was here.  We reified the sheer mass of the movement. I think there is something to be said for that as we pull each other along.

So, we failed. Failed to save the world, failed to stop climate change, failed to create a binding agreement for nations to move forward, failed to find faith in leadership. But we only failed in terms of Friday, December 18th, 2009. But each following day we’ve got more hands on the wheel bring us hard to port.

Some Recap from around the web:

BLDGBLOG: California City

Here is a article about the beauty of what wasn’t build in the California Desert over on BLDGBLOG. It reminds me of the tracts you can see from the unbuilt neighborhood west of LAX. On my way to COP15, I drove around the back of the airport in Los Angeles and it’s bee on my mind.

In the desert 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles is a suburb abandoned in advance of itself—the unfinished extension of a place called California City. Visible from above now are a series of badly paved streets carved into the dust and gravel, like some peculiarly American response to the Nazca Lines (or even the labyrinth at Chartres cathedral). The uninhabited street plan has become an abstract geoglyph—unintentional land art visible from airplanes—not a thriving community at all.

via BLDGBLOG: California City.