On Wednesday the 7th of March the Environmental Politics Group met in the Arts Centre cinema for a presentation by Sara Penrhyn Jones. A lecturer in Theatre, Film and Television at Aberystwyth University, Sara gave an account of her journey of exploration through scientific, political and artistic representations of climate change. This journey has taken Sara all the way from climate change talks in Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban to an adaptation project in Borth.
The presentation tracked Sara’s journey as a filmmaker at three international climate change talks, where she filmed for different organisations producing disparate representations of the climate change problematic. At COP 15 in Copenhagen, Sara filmed for Spanner Films, the makers of Age of Stupid, producing live footage of the official talks and demonstrations as they unfolded for the ‘Stupid Show’. At COP 16 in Cancun, Sara created pre-recorded online videos for the One Climate/Climate Knowledge Development Network (CDKN). And at COP 17 in Durban, she again worked for One Climate on an interactive multi-media blog.
The hundreds of interviews and hours of footage Sara collected challenged her personal perception of the issue in different ways. Each organisation’s representation of climate change promoted different understandings and attitudes towards the issue that she wanted to explore for herself in greater depth. In particular, Sara became interested in the issue of climate migration, and the implications for language, community and culture. One of the most moving interviews was the personal account of a Kiribati islander. Kiribati, a pacific island, faces a precarious future from rising sea levels, and Sara suggested that this physical and cultural threat to the existence of the Kiribati nation struck a chord with her identity as a Welsh speaker. Sara is planning to visit the island with funding from the university to capture some of its beauty on film and raise awareness to its plight.
The journey ended closer to home for Sara, filming climate change adaptation in Borth. Borth is under threat from rising sea levels and raising sea defences to protect the village for the next hundred years proved cheaper than relocating its residents. On visiting a friend in the village, Sara was captivated by the site of the machinery and movement of earth and decided to start filming the multi-million pound project. We were given a taster of this work in progress, in which the everyday imagery of Borth and its residents is juxtaposed against the work of unearthly-looking diggers shifting vast piles of sand and rocks as they remould the landscape. In exploring the meaning of climate change in Wales, Sara has produced her own representation of the issue, combining imagery and music with the thoughts and poetics of those experiencing these changes.
We want to thank Sara for her presentation and we hope she’ll visit the group again once her film is finished.
This is one of Sara’s favourite interviews from COP 17 in Durban – an in depth interview with Patrick Bond, professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on the outcome of the talks: