by Hannah Gartner
The first two weeks of December saw that most important climate talks in years. From these talks, called COP21, have come the most concrete plan on how to mitigate global warming and its effects to date. Each country involved is now creating an individual plan of what this will look like. Starting in 2018 these plans will be revised every five years. The international goal is to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, with a more ambitious side goal of staying below 1.5 degrees of warming. To achieve this already developed nations are pledging to contribute funds to developing nations so that they may grow their alternative energy economies.
The steps taken during COP21 may be a turning point for the environmental movement. No longer are global warming and climate change being portrayed as fringe issues. They now exist within the public consciousness in large way, something that was vividly apparent throughout the talks in Paris. Along with the politicians, activists and everyday citizens flocked to the city to make their voices heard. Among them where a number of artists who used a diverse array of methods to increase the dialogue around these issues.
One of the most remarkable art installations at COP21 was by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. He shipped twelve massive pieces of Greenland ice and arranged them in a shape of a clock in front of the Pantheon. The installation, titled Ice Watch, was then left to melt. The symbolism here is very clear: our planet is running out of time and action must be taken now.
Public art also served as an alternative to protests, which following the terrorist attacks on November 13th had been outlawed throughout the entire conference. French artist JR and American filmmaker Darren Aronofsky collaborated on a projection piece they call The Standing March. Showing the image of over 500 people, the purpose of this piece is to show that the world stands in solidarity on the need to care for our environment.
About 200,000 activists had planned to march on November 29th to further cement this idea. With strict rules on mass assemblies in place though, the protesters opted for a second best. That morning 20,000 pairs of shoes were placed in the Place de la Republique. Since the people could not walk, they let their shoes stand in their place.