COP26 was the twenty sixth United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the sixteenth such meeting since the Kyoto Protocol was put in place, and the stakes for action on climate change have, arguably, never been higher. All G20 countries are signatories to the Paris Agreement that aims to limit global warming to 1.5°C and yet none of them have policies in place that will reach this goal. G20 countries collectively generate approximately 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The G20 countries record on action to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement by taking responsibility for their own emissions, and providing finance to developing nations to do the same, is abominable. Based on current policies and action the world is headed for 3.6°C warming by 2100.
All G20 Heads of State had the opportunity to address COP26 in the High Level Heads of State Plenary and highlight to the conference what their country was doing to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement. Seven of the Twenty did not attend the conference. The rest spoke optimistically and passionately about changes they were making, and the future they foresaw. Clearly there is a massive disjunct between their words and actions.
Allowed three minutes to speak, all of the leaders who attended spoke over their allotted time, some by as many as eight minutes. In the background the gong can be heard, indicating that the speaker has talked over time. This audio work takes the last three minutes of each speech and overlays them to create an audio object, a babble, that is as incoherent, and foolish, as the G20 nations climate change commitments.
Listening to Babble there are moments of clarity and cohesion but they are constantly threatened by the noise that is generated in the layering of the audio. As citizens of the world our safety, now and in the future, is threatened by the actions, the inaction, of our leaders. Their words amount to noise and offer very little hope, in spite of the optimism with which they speak, because the threat is very real and goes well beyond jeopardizing to our way of life, standard of living and maintaining business as usual. Human social, government and cultural systems and practices, created this existential threat to the planet and all its inhabitants, it is humans who must act now to avoid utter catastrophe.