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Carnival of Crisis: an alternative summit to COP26 foregrounding creativity

Carnival of Crisis
  • Written byTash Payne
  • Published date 21 September 2021
Carnival of Crisis
Thais Mota / Climate Emergency Network

In response to the COP26 Climate Summit, UAL’s Climate Emergency Network presents Carnival of Crisis: Mobilising Creative Action in the Age of Emergency. The event season runs parallel to COP26 and reflects UAL’s commitment to tackling the climate emergency.

Carnival of Crisis brings together students, staff and alumni from across UAL’s six colleges, with some of the UK’s leading cultural institutions. This includes a series of events in association with Glasgow School of Art, located in COP26’s host city. Events will showcase the innovative contributions made by the creative sector towards tackling the climate emergency. With the sector not recognised in the programme of COP26, Carnival gives creative changemakers the opportunity to join the conversation, showcase their innovative work and spark international connections.

Carnival of Crisis takes inspiration from carnival’s cultural history and power to disrupt societal norms. The season is an expression of unity, curiosity and discovery in the face of the environmental crisis. It will lead to a period of reflection and renewal. Following COP26, UAL will unveil an ambitious new Climate Action Plan, building on the university’s bold pledge to achieve net zero by 2040, 10 years ahead of the UK Government’s mandate.

Get involved

From 1 November to 12 November, activities and events are taking place online and in-person. From walks, talks and symposiums to exhibitions and workshops, Carnival features a range of events open to the public.

The climax of Carnival will be our Parade for Climate Justice on 10 November, taking place at Chelsea Parade Ground opposite Tate Britain. Join us for talks from special guests, students and UAL leadership. The event will also feature performances and collective activations. We will come together as a community in a spirit of unity and solidarity, in the name of climate justice.

Carnival of Crisis will show how creative changemakers can help bring about climate justice. Culture should take its place alongside social, economic and environmental interventions as one of the main pillars of sustainability.

— James Purnell, President & Vice-Chancellor of UAL

Sustainability is already embedded in the UAL curriculum and across the university’s research and knowledge exchange activities, as outlined in the Education for Sustainability Transformation report. The Centre for Circular Design is working to achieve a fully circular textiles economy by 2050; Central Saint Martins is playing a crucial role in Plastic Justice; and Pharma-Factory is exploring the use of plant biotechnology in manufacturing medical and veterinary products. The Centre for Sustainable Fashion is applying sustainable design to fashion as both artistic and business practice.

Carnival also reflects a culture of student action and innovation at UAL. Recent interventions include Webby Award-winning Climate Emergency Interactive, a dynamic learning tool co-developed by students and staff for learning about the climate emergency; and “robot fish”, a techno-ecology device designed to extract microplastics from water using ferrofluid, Winner of the Maison/0 This Earth Award.

View the full programme and details of each event on the Carnival of Crisis webpages. Sign up to the Climate Emergency Network newsletter and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.