Braving a New World: Audio Theater and the Climate Crisis

April 23 , 6:00 pm 8:00 pm EDT

Every artform can open us up to our own ability to take meaningful action on the climate crisis. The New School and the Climate Museum are delighted to present a program examining forms of audio theater dedicated to this end. Storytelling holds great power across human cultures, and so does the oral tradition. The increasing variety and availability of contemporary audio culture, including podcasts and audiobooks, has generated renewed interest in audio theater—not widely heard since the radio dramas of the early twentieth century.  

This event will share work from artists focused on climate justice who are redefining ‘sound art’ forms. The panel will be moderated by Cecilia Rubino and Sarah Montague (New School) and include Darian Dauchan (Poet/Musician), Chantal Bilodeau (Arts & Climate Initiative), Lanxing Fu (Superhero Clubhouse/Big Green Theater), and Ben Williams (Elevator Repair Service). 

April 26 , 12:30 am 1:45 pm EDT

Join us for a discussion exploring the role of environmental justice and what a just transition means.

Environmental justice and a just transition are critical to tackling the climate crisis and create a more equitable world for all. Yet awareness of environmental justice is uneven and the concept applies differently in different circumstances. Join the National Academies and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for a discussion about reconciling different understandings of environmental justice, the importance of community engagement in a just transition, and how centering environmental justice can accelerate implementation of climate-friendly policies.

Closed captioning will be provided. The conversation will include questions from the audience and will be recorded and available to view on the page after the event. 

April 4 , 2:30 pm 3:30 pm EDT

The Trash Free Waters program will be hosting a webinar to discuss the relationship between plastics and climate change. From production and transport to consumption and disposal, plastics have a profound impact on our environment, including our climate. During this webinar, three expert panelists will provide information on the effects of plastic consumption and production on climate change and answer your questions about this serious problem. Join us for this webinar to explore the nature and scale of this problem, hear about policy options to mitigate its effects, and learn about the disproportionate burden placed on vulnerable populations. Closed captioning will be available during the webinar.

Speakers:

  • Alice Zhu, PhD Candidate & Vanier Scholar at the University of Toronto, Co-Founder of Plastics & Climate Project
  • Dr. John M. Doherty, Science and Policy Analyst at Environmental Law Institute
  • Margaret Spring, Chief Conservation and Science Officer at Monterey Bay Aquarium

March 20 , 1:00 pm 2:00 pm EDT

Media shapes the public discourse on climate action and some of the political narrative around potential solutions. To that end, environmental advocates and policy leaders play an important role in providing journalists with accurate information on how to respond to today’s challenges. Why, then, are our media outlets full of misinformation and misleading sensationalism? In this interactive panel discussion, advocates Anjuli Ramos, of the Sierra Club, and Marcus Sibley and Nicole Miller of the New Jersey Progressive Equitable Energy Coalition (NJPEEC) will talk with one of our conference co-chairs, Meg McGuire, SEJ member Lauren Yates and the new executive director of the SEJ, Aparna Mukherjee, on what can and should be done to ensure fair, accurate and useful reporting around climate action.

April 12 , 8:00 am April 14 , 5:00 pm EDT

You know climate change threatens our planet and our future. Now learn what you can do.

This spring, join former Vice President Al Gore and an all-star lineup of thought leaders, experts, and organizers in New York City for a Climate Reality Leadership training exploring the climate crisis today and the road to a sustainable tomorrow.

Join us in New York for incredible conversations, skill sessions, and networking opportunities. You’ll learn what climate change means for you and get the know-how and tools to make a real difference.

You’ll also join a global community of nearly 50,000 Climate Reality Leaders, with chapters driving change across the US.

The training is free to attend. American Sign Language interpreting services will be provided and Spanish simultaneous interpretation will be available for some sessions. Habrá interpretación simultánea en español en algunas sesiones.

The fossil fuel industry threatens to sabotage COP28 as United Nations (UN) climate talks open today at Expo City, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. There is no shortage of talk about conflicts of interest as industries, investors, and complicit government representatives attend talks where UN delegates are expected to plan a phase down or phase out of industries’ extraction and use of climate-warming oil, gas, and coal.

This, as swift, effective action to address the climate crisis has never been more urgent. COP28 is being held during the hottest year ever recorded, one of destructive storms, wildfires, and other climate-related disasters. It’s clear further delay in implementing the real solutions needed to take effective action on a global, systems scale will only continue to harm people and the planet.

Fossil Fuel Industry Interests Flood COP28

Much public controversy was stirred up well ahead of COP28, starting with the mere fact that the UN talks are being held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is one of the world’s biggest producers of fossil fuels, the main ingredient in plastics and many of plastic’s toxic additives.

What’s more, the appointed presiding host of the talks is the head of Adnoc (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company), Dr. Sultan Al Jaber. In addition to being hosted by the head of the United Arab Emirates’ biggest oil company, investigations suggest that ahead of the talks, Adnoc was preparing to strike fossil fuel deals with negotiating nations. Two days before COP28, Jaber rejected accusations that the UAE planned to market fossil fuel dealings during the climate talks. 

Also ahead of COP28, fossil-fuel friendly Saudi Arabia was outed for quietly developing a significant global investment plan—the oil demand sustainability program (ODSP)—to drive demand for its oil and gas in developing nations. And we learned the United States has produced record-setting amounts of oil and gas in 2023, and only plans to continue expanding. Meanwhile, global production of plastic is expected to triple by 2060, with fossil fuels increasingly used to make the material due to rules clamping down on fossil fuel uses for combustion.

This is far from the first time industry interests have attempted to take over global climate talks. In the last 15 years, COPs have also been held in fossil-fuel friendly Egypt and Qatar. However, this year’s leadership by a major representative of the fossil fuel industry is unprecedented. Continued and increasing fossil fuel presence at COPs and in other climate change talks is widely viewed as part of the industry’s attempt to avoid regulation.

Future of People and the Planet at Stake

COP has been held annually since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was ratified in 1992. As human-driven climate change intensifies, increasingly warming the Earth and its inhabitants, urgency for solutions grows. 

In addition to potentially negotiating an agreement to phase down or phase out fossil fuels, UN delegates are also expected to finalize the details of a “loss and damage” fund for compensating poorer countries that have been disproportionately harmed by the climate crisis while not having greatly contributed to global greenhouse gas emissions. However, the fund text, in its current form, fails to require wealthy nations to pay into it while also housing the fund in the World Bank, which continues to fund unjust, unhealthy, and damaging coal projects.

This year’s meeting is especially important, as it represents the first Global Stocktake of progress for the 196 UN parties that have agreed to take action to slow global warming. The focus of the 2015 Paris Agreement is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially from fossil fuel use and production, in order to stay below the threshold of a 1.5 degree Celsius (or more) rise in average global temperature above pre-industrial times by 2100.

But according to the UN’s own experts, humanity realistically now has only a 14 percent chance of meeting the 1.5 degree target. We are far more likely to see a nearly 3 degrees Celsius rise in average global temperature by the end of the century due to industries’ continued extraction, processing, transportation, storage, use, and sale of fossil fuels. According to scientists, if we exceed 3 degrees of heating, the Earth could pass several catastrophic, deadly, and irreversible tipping points, including mass desertification of rainforests and total melting of ice sheets. This would put the survival of much life on Earth, including human lives, at risk.

Our Allies Speak Out at COP28

Climate experts stress that real solutions to the climate crisis begin with keeping existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground. We must also address climate-warming greenhouse emissions from major industries such as industrial agriculture, transportation, shipping, and of course production of plastics. Meanwhile, fossil fuel companies and some governments continue to hide behind technologically focused fixes like “advanced” recycling of plastics and carbon-capture-storage (CCS), which only perpetuate pollution and injustice, and do not actually diminish human dependence on fossil fuels. 

In a world where limits are increasingly placed on fossil fuel combustion, production of plastics has been identified by industries as an area for continued growth and profits—despite plastics causing widespread harm to people and human rights, wildlife, the planet, and the climate. 

To help communicate key facts and stress the need for urgent, effective action to address the interconnected climate and plastic crises, Plastic Pollution Coalition Executive Advisory Board Member Dr. Michael K. Dorsey, and Youth Ambassadors Xiye Bastida and Sophia Kianni are among some of our allies participating in COP28. In Dubai, on December 7, Youth Ambassador AY Young will host “THE RECHARGE,” a solar-powered music-meets-climate-solutions event with many special guests. In all, the UN estimates more than 70,000 attendees will be present at the talks. 

Though the challenges ahead are great, a growing sense of awareness is driving people to take action. And, as the Dalai Lama pointed out as the talks opened today, there are many inspiring people making the change we need today.

Take Action

We see worrisome signs that the industries, investors, and governments driving the climate crisis are serious about resisting the change they must make to avert the most severe impacts of global warming. Representatives from the U.S. and China—the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters—who plan to attend COP28 include U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua. However, absent from the talks are the nations’ Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping of the United States and China. 

Despite identifying the climate crisis as a focal point of attention and action, President Biden has allowed the fossil fuel industry to continue to grow under his leadership. You can help show the world that we demand that industries and governments act to protect the environment, and put people before—and not after—profits. Tell the president to stop approving new and expanded petrochemical and plastic facilities to help protect communities from pollution and the climate crisis.

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