Climate activists should look beyond Copenhagen

City Screen, owners of the Picturehouse chain of cinemas, boasts that “independent (or “arthouse”) films have always been core to the Company’s profile.”

I’m a member at the Harbour Lights Picturehouse, Southampton, and was not overjoyed to be offered 27 opportunities to see a populist football movie last week. The climate change film, The Age of Stupid, was allotted two dead slots on Tuesday at 1.00pm and 9.20pm, neither of which was mentioned in local newsprint listings.

The evening film ended at about 11.15, by which time the combination of buses and trains to get me home to Winchester had expired for all but the most intrepid insomniacs. Forced to go by car, I was unsurprised at the thin attendance.

I’ve therefore awarded my first Stupid Certificate to Harbour Lights Picturehouse, with a stupid score of 1 for putting on a climate change film which finished too late for public transport.

The film deserves a better fate than its rapid exit from the public eye, resonant in its Southampton treatment. But I hesitate to comment further for fear of relapsing into the awful tone of admiring condescension adopted by most of the professional reviewers. It’s almost as though it’s becoming politically incorrect to knock climate activism, now that the Daily Telegraph has abandoned denial.

Judging the public appetite for action on climate change is particularly fraught just now. Climate and poverty campaigning groups are in evident confusion, both in their calls to action and in how they relate to each other. And the public cannot focus on climate activism when everyone is playing poker with a P45.

My Harbour Lights experience offers the consolation of reinforcing my friendly internal dispute with colleagues at OneWorld UK. My case is that 2009 is just not going to be the year for climate change and that we should not put all our eggs into the Copenhagen basket.

However excellent The Age of Stupid, however alarming the new scientific reports, whatever the imperatives of a new Kyoto Protocol, the US and China will not be ready.

The week ended painfully in support of my case. The London Summit displayed total ignorance of the connection between climate change and the global economy. And on the same day as the G20 communiqué, the US Congress budget debate delivered setbacks for the prospective Global Warming Bill, casting doubt on its introduction during 2009.

Meanwhile, Su Wei, the senior Chinese negotiator at the UN climate talks under way in Bonn, has had plenty to say about his expectations for commitments by richer countries and nothing at all about what China might offer.

Let’s talk about global food security instead.


this article was first published by OneWorld UK