In order to create a solution for the climate challenge it is essential that the people contribute; experts and politician alone do not resolve the massive change we are facing. The Climate Festival § 112 of January 2019 is a broad climate celebration that encourages and inspires people to support political measures to ensure a sustainable future. Elementa had a talk with Anders Selstrøm Moe, one of the driving forces behind the festival.
# Why a Climate Festival?
We believe that we have to create a whole culture for change - a brave culture. The climate crisis is said to be the greatest challenge of our time, comparable to the challenges of war, but unlike the sudden strike of war, the climate crisis approaches slowly, and there is no visible enemy. How can we create a public demand for fundamental action under these circumstances? One of the problems we see, is that the mainstream culture have avoided the theme of climate change for such a long time. It has resulted in a social stigma on being engaged. But you don´t have to be in a certain manner or belong to a certain identity to see that we need to take action now. To be involved in the issue of climate change is for everyone, and we want to make it socially fulfilling and joyful to be engaged!
When we chose to call it a festival that is not coincidental; we want to create a proper party in order to celebrate the ongoing shift towards a more sustainable future. Today, the shift is accelerating enormously, but at the same time, a lot of people who are not directly engaging with the processes, don’t know about it. And then it is easy to feel disillusioned - which again makes it hard to take action. We believe in the need for creating strong networks in order to remove the feelings of loneliness and hopelessness, and to support the experience of engaging with the climate issue as a positive community endeavour.
# Who is behind this initiative?
The Norwegian Climate Network started about ten years back, with the goal of strengthening the climate movement in Norway, by joining forces between dedicated people from different fields and practices.Our goal for what we do is to create a common scene and cooperative platform for all these voices to come together and be strong. We have been working in many different ways to create change, and in 2014 we initiated the first festival. It was a surprising success, and the festival has been our main focus after that.
# How does the Festival play out?
This is the fifth year we are having the festival and this year we are working together with The Municipality of Oslo, celebrating Oslo as the European Green Capital of 2019. In the opening weekend from 4. - 6’th of January we will fill SALT with green activities, and then continue throughout the month in Oslo and many other places in Norway. The festival will facilitate for a huge range of free activities for everyone; from theatre, performance, concerts, lectures and workshops, to fun games and activities for the children.
One of the events I am looking forward to is the “overheated sauna talks”, where interesting people talk for a sweating audience in the sauna at SALT. We’re taking heating seriously! There will be dancers, an orchestra and even real divers collecting plastic from the freezing water in the harbour. We will also establish a post office where you can send mail to people who need to be addressed, like our Prime Minister and so many others in our present government. I think Trump might also get his own postbox.
# Can you say something about the philosophy behind the festival?
Much of the philosophy behind our strategies is based on what the climate psychologist Per Espen Stoknes coins as “taking a small step in”, meaning - it is not enough to think, you have to do something, even the smallest thing can help, then you will suddenly have the experience of actually being someone taking action. Action is empowering, which is a crucial feeling in order to be a part of the change. We believe in other ways of engaging than just with the reason and the rational mind; we think that you have to appeal to the feelings and emotions of the human being to create a culture of change, and that is why we believe expressions of art are crucial in engaging with the climate.
If you ask google “What is the green wave?” you will get a million answers, and that is exactly what it is. The green wave is a million things at the same time. It is a paradigm shift and thus, it is important not to exclude anything. It is very human to experience change as threatening, but in reality it is not change that is the actual danger, but the opposite. That is why we all have to take the “small step in” and turn our perception of change into something positive and collaborative.
# If we do not get our grips together, what do you see as the likely consequences?
We all know that animals are dying and plants are getting extinct, but as for me, my even stronger fear is the actual risk of war. Just take a brief look at history and you will see how these dynamics works. When situations get acute, there will be fights for resources. I am not able to see how these massive climatic changes will go on without conflict, and that is why I see all work in favour of saving the climate and the environment is peace work, work that can save many from terrible human suffering in the future.
# The name of the festival refers to the 112 § paragraph of the Norwegian constitution, what does this entail?
As far as I know we are the only country that has an article like this in our constitution, and I see it as one of the most beautiful pieces of legislature in the world; a paragraph that is actually protecting our common home, even for future generations. The article states: “ Every person has a right to an environment that is conducive to health and to a natural environment whose productivity and diversity are maintained. Natural resources should be managed on the basis of comprehensive long-term considerations whereby this right will be safeguarded for future generations as well. In order to safeguard their right in accordance with the foregoing paragraph, citizens are entitled to information on the state of the natural environment and on the effects of any encroachment on nature that is planned or carried out. The authorities of the State shall issue specific provisions for the implementation of these principles.”
There are a lot of questions about if this paragraph really operates in Norway, but our intention is that the festival is a mobilization around the actual content of it.
# What is your personal story with climate commitment?
Some years back I worked with climate and environment within the field of city planning. But at some point I felt that city planning was not efficient enough, it was too slow and this was a more urgent issue. I feel that my revelation of the urgency was so fundamental that it has concerned everything that I do ever since. After this all my activities has become a question of how can I spend my energy best in this favour, to create change. Naturally, I became very serious and thoughtful, but good fortune led me to find the Norwegian Climate Network and discovered a new and more fun way of working. Suddenly I found myself on a boat full of people dressed in animal costumes, tigers and polar bears with accordions. So now I do both, city planning and the festival, and I feel a lot less worried and a lot more joy.
# What do you see as the most important personal choices you can take in order to live more climate friendly?
I feel that one of the most important things you can do is to stand up for the issue of climate change as an actual reality; to be honest and present with yourself. In your meetings with others, support the people who make a difference, like politicians brave enough to question our lifestyle. We are confronted with a huge challenge and lets get real about it! This will in turn affect your choices, big and small. I believe that bad consciousness mostly make you passive. So instead of thinking about all the little things you could have done, think about the big things you can actually do. I think we can all make a great impact, and most importantly where we work or study. I think you can do impactful actions in all jobs, if not directly then indirectly. How are your jobs pensions invested? If you have studytrips, go somewhere within train or ferry distance, instead of flying somewhere? In a job with 20 employees, this can amount to several years of your own carbon footprint. And if your individual steps seems small, think about how we together can create the culture and knowledge we need; a culture for the brave decisions our societies must take very soon.
The Climate Festival takes place all over Norway from 4 - 26th of January 2019. You can take a look at the program here.