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Caithness and Sutherland organisations to form COP26 'climate beacon'

By Alan Hendry

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Lyth Arts Centre, which will join forces with Timespan and the University of the Highlands and Islands' Environmental Research Institute in the climate initiative. Picture: Lyth Arts Centre
Lyth Arts Centre, which will join forces with Timespan and the University of the Highlands and Islands' Environmental Research Institute in the climate initiative. Picture: Lyth Arts Centre

Three organisations in Caithness and east Sutherland are joining forces to help shine a light on climate issues ahead of this year's COP26 summit.

Timespan, Lyth Arts Centre and the University of the Highlands and Islands' Environmental Research Institute will act collectively as one of seven hubs across Scotland known as climate beacons.

They are forming a partnership to inspire "public engagement and positive action" locally in the run-up to November's UN climate change conference and beyond.

Six other beacons are being established in Argyll, Fife, Inverclyde, Midlothian, the Outer Hebrides and Tayside.

They are funded by the Scottish Government’s climate change and culture divisions, Creative Scotland and Museums Galleries Scotland.

Creative Carbon Scotland, an arts and sustainability charity, is overseeing the project.

Themes covered will include temperate rainforests, industrial heritage, adaptation to climate change, land use, biodiversity, green jobs and the Covid-19 recovery.

The beacons will provide "a welcoming physical and virtual space" for the public, artists and cultural sector professionals, environmental non-governmental organisations, scientists and policy-makers to discuss issues specific to their area, according to publicity outlining the initiative.

In Caithness and east Sutherland the focus will be on "climate colonialism, land justice and redistribution" as well as the role of peatland restoration.

Charlotte Mountford, co-director at Lyth Arts Centre, said: “As a collective, we are absolutely delighted to have been selected as one of the seven climate beacons for COP26. Caithness and Sutherland offer a unique location to host a beacon, offering a transformational opportunity for our communities to truly have their voices heard in national and international climate conversations.”

Scotland's culture minister Jenny Gilruth said of the project: “This pioneering work from Creative Carbon Scotland ahead of COP26 makes a powerful link between culture and climate action. Climate beacons will play an important role in ensuring that the history-making COP26 negotiations are not only felt in Glasgow but across the country, helping everyone in Scotland to better understand climate change and how to contribute to becoming a net-zero society.”

Creative Carbon Scotland is connecting the seven beacons and offering support throughout, alongside co-ordinating partners Architecture and Design Scotland, Creative Scotland, Edinburgh Climate Change Institute, Museums Galleries Scotland, Scottish Library and Information Council and Sustainable Scotland Network.

Ben Twist, director at Creative Carbon Scotland, said: “Tackling climate change requires us to find imaginative solutions to complex problems. Cultural buildings and events can provide an open and welcoming space for these challenging conversations, bringing people together to collectively think, imagine, feel and develop lasting connections that will strengthen future climate action.”

Creative Scotland CEO Iain Munro said: “There is an enormous amount of work being undertaken across the arts, screen and creative industries to improve sustainability, using art and creativity to influence and inspire action.

"The climate beacons will see art and cultural organisations across the country collaborate with environmental organisations to develop a range of creative activities focused on addressing the climate emergency and stimulating our understanding of the role of art in climate action. We look forward to working with the beacons in this crucial year for climate action in Scotland.”

Lucy Casot, CEO at Museums Galleries Scotland, said: “We are committed to supporting museums and galleries to be at the forefront of climate conversations and action in culture and heritage.

"We are pleased to partner with the climate beacons, which will be important places for people to come together across Scotland to reflect, be inspired and take action in the lead-up to COP26 and beyond.

"Cross-sector collaboration is key to the climate beacons, and museums and galleries will work with a range of arts, cultural, and environmental organisations to create long-lasting relationships to take action against the climate emergency."

To find out more about the climate beacons and how to get involved, visit www.climatebeacons.com

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