Burn Baby Burn by Myka Baum


Burning structure by Julia Parkinson


Coal in the hole mining poster by Julia Parkinson


COKEBEAR by Eunho Rhee


Earth Sold by Myka Baum


Endgame by Peter Kennard


Five Minutes to Midnight by Peter Kennard


Plane Banana by Mollie Tearne


Oil on earth by Peter Kennard


The Haywain 31 December 2099 by Peter Kennard


Trades by Lewk Wilmshurst


'Fiddling While Earth Burns': slap-in-the-face images as #COP21 ends

Anna Verghese @annavergh

We've heard a lot of noise around COP21 over the past two weeks.

World leaders have been battling it out in Paris, negotiating who will give how much in the fight to save the planet.

Negotiations have clearly been hard: COP21 has overrun in terms of time, but hopefully, by the end of today when goals are to be announced, we will have a tangible plan to bring the planet back from the brink of disaster.

Read: #COP21 may decide on 1.5 degrees Celsius target. And that's a great thing

And yet, despite evidence and passionate conversation, it's hard to make people care. Really, truly care to change our own actions, that is.

For others, it's not conviction that's lacking; it's a sense of helplessness that's the issue. Like nothing we do will really make a difference or actually slow down the pace at which the Earth is reeling towards implosion.

Fortunately, not everyone is willing to let themselves be bogged down. But it's not just climate change activists who are fighting the good fight. Art has gotten in on the act, too.

Peter Kennard, a political artist and Professor of Photography, Art & the Public Domain, at The Royal College of Art in London, along with a team of young students, is leading the charge. They call themselves the 'RCA Climate Action Collective'. The artists set out to create a hard-hitting exhibition to coincide with COP21 and emphasise the urgency of tackling global warming.

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The exhibition at Dyson Gallery, Royal College of Art, London

Titled Fiddling While Earth Burns, the stunning exhibition included video, photography, digital and sound artworks by 15 RCA students, and also featured Kennard's own works.

"In 1821, Shelley wrote in A Defence of Poetry that, as writers and artists, "we should imagine what we know"," says Kennard.

That's precisely what the group set out to do - to depict in stark visual terms "what we know about the danger to our planet from rising CO2 levels."

"We know it leads to extreme weather conditions, war, economic ruin and ultimately to the displacement of hundreds of millions of people. We know that governments and citizens have to stand up to the power of the fossil fuel corporations. We know we are burying our heads in the sand as we pump out the oil."

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Protest placards made by the group using recycled materials

But art also offers hope, and this exhibition is no different. It outlines the grim reality, but also holds out hope that if we act hard and act fast, we can start to make a difference.

In that, the planet can be grateful that COP21 has actually been a summit of hope and perseverance - a far cry from the disaster that was Copenhagen six years ago.

In the words of Laurent Fabius, Chair of COP21: "I think, dear friends, that we will make it."

More in Catch:

#COP21: the Paris summit sits on an unfair deal no one is talking about

Keep your nuclear power, Mr Shinzo Abe. We can do without a Fukushima

Modi & Sharif revived Indo-Pak dialogue in 167 seconds. Here's how

Anna Verghese

Anna Verghese @annavergh