A Climate Tipping Point?
“Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”
Laudato Si – Catholic Church Encyclical on Climate Change
We are at a remarkable time in history as the world focuses attention on the UN climate change talks in Paris this December. Recognizing the urgency and opportunity of this moment, this spring the Compton Foundation board allocated one-time additional grantmaking resources to maximize public insistence on a strong, rigorous global agreement that is an appropriate response to our dramatically changing climate and its human implications.
While the dollar amount of our contribution pales in comparison to the magnitude of the climate crisis, we believe that every effort to build the surround sound of voices calling for climate action right now is critical. We trust that our additional investments in mobilization, organizing, and storytelling will help ensure that public pressure will be relentless in the build up to, and aftermath of, the Paris meetings. Over the past few years, we have learned much through our funding in transformative leadership and courageous storytelling about the value of networked approaches to mobilizing for change and the power of cultural action, imagination, and art to shift momentum on the most important issues of our time. Building on what we have learned, we funded ten additional projects, all of which are using the Paris climate talks to advance the effort to build a powerful and diverse movement for a climate resilient future.
A collaborative grant to the Climate Justice Alliance and Grassroots Global Justice will help weave together the work of approximately 100 grassroots organizations on the frontlines of the climate crisis around the world. They will organize community leaders to call for a just transition, advance community climate solutions, bring their voices to large scale actions in Paris during the COP, and plan for continued climate pressure post-Paris. A similar grant to the Global Call for Climate Action, the Climate Action Network, Avaaz, and 350.org will support these organizations to mobilize their global networks, culminating with the mass movement action in Paris. Both efforts aim to build consistent pressure from a worldwide climate movement for serious government action and radical emission cuts toward a 100% clean energy, just, and sustainable future.
The fossil fuel divestment movement has already changed narratives about the moral
stakes of market decisions and has immense potential to evolve into a compelling vehicle for investment in a clean and just energy future. Compton is an active participant in Divest/Invest Philanthropy and will support its campaign to engage 200 foundation signatories from around the world before the Paris meeting. A grant to the Natural History Museum will support a Paris convening of arts organizations working to push the divestment movement into the cultural sphere, from Liberate Tate, and BP or not BP in the UK, to Stopp Oljesponssing av Norsk Kulturliv (Stop Oil Sponsorship of Norwegian Culture) in Norway. Just last week, in response to NHM’s campaigning, the California Academy of Sciences released a statement announcing its intention to cut all ties to fossil fuels, making it the first museum in the US to support divestment and to refuse to accept any fossil fuel funding or sponsorship.
We are excited to support creative projects that will provide compelling opportunities to engage people in new ways. Long time Compton grantee Cape Farewell is collaborating with a French partner to present ARTCOP21, an event series during the UN negotiations that will stage Paris-wide cultural climate
events and work to create a cultural manifesto for positive and sustainable change. Magnum Foundation will partner with ArtCOP21 to launch a multi-platform digital and print campaign that uses documentary photography to make emotional connections to environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and climate justice, working to grow the image vocabulary for the climate movement.
Artist Mel Chin and writer Gretel Erlich have teamed up, with the support of Ed Morris and the Canary Project, to produce L’Arctique est Paris—a short film, media campaign, and performance event, featuring Jens Danielsen, an Inuit leader, driving a dogsled pulled by French poodles through the streets of Paris. The project will focus on the changes climate has already brought to the Arctic, island nations, and the rest of the world, and will highlight the urgent human story at the center of climate impacts and climate solutions. A grant to Beautiful Trouble will fund its Climate Ribbon project in Paris. The project is a storytelling event that uses art and ritual to move people “through climate grief and denial into solidarity and action.” In partnership with organizations including GreenFaith andCoalition Climat 21, the project is already collecting ribbons from across the world, aiming to bring 50,000 to 100,000 ribbon-stories to Paris.
The Global Call for Climate Action, will partner with Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a young poet from the Marshall Islands, to select, train, and bring to Paris the best spoken word artists from countries considered central to the success of the current round of climate talks to write and share climate-related poetry. A grant to journalist Antonia Juhasz will support investigative research on key women leaders from the Keeping Fossil Fuel in the Ground Coalition. She will report on each woman’s life and work at home, at COP21, and when she returns from Paris, and the material will also feature in her next book, The End of Oil.
Catching the Sun is a new documentary by filmmaker Shalini Kantayya about the international race to build a clean energy economy. A Compton grant will help support screening and house parties in the US and beyond. Screenings with the Sierra Club, 350.org, and the NAACP aim to engage local communities to build state support for renewable portfolio standards and clean energy policies. Secretary of State Kerry will screen the film for US Governors and Mayors during States and Cities Diplomacy Week, and at COP21 the R20 (a coalition of regional governments committed to climate action) will screen the film in Paris.
The climate crisis changes everything and requires all of us to wake up, pay attention to what is at stake, and fight for the future we want. This is also a time of creative response—the opportunity to start to build the future we imagine. We hope these new grants will help inspire both!