Pix in the Stix does COP26

Not Without Us’ Film Screening: 

East Linton Community Hall, 25th September 2021

As part of local pre-COP26 activity, Pix in the Stix – in association with Sustaining Dunbar, Climate Action East Linton and Take One Action – hosted a screening of ‘Not Without Us’, a 2016 Cert (12+) documentary that connects the dots between growing economic inequality, fossil fuel driven economies and government inaction in the face of the greatest crisis engulfing our planet. It conveys the call from campaigners from around the world for deep, far reaching system change. We were delighted that the Community Hall (with Covid restrictions seating capacity in place) was almost fully booked for the event. The film traces seven grassroots activists from around the world as they head to the COP21 UN climate talks in Paris and poses the question: can the will of the people put pressure on world leaders?

Following the screening, the audience engaged in lively discussion and debate focusing on a series of questions provided by Take One Action. These included considering the extent to which perceptions of COP climate negotiations and agreements shifted as a result of seeing the film. A number in the audience were surprised to learn that the Paris Agreement did not mention fossil fuels directly and that, following COP21, nothing relating to fossil fuels was legally binding, having only featured in the preamble. The audience was asked to name the activist that made the greatest impression. The most noted figures included a Canadian activist (Pat Mooney) who was moved to tears as he highlighted the disastrous future awaiting the younger generations and a Nigerian activist (Nnimmo Bassey), who emphasised the fact that even if we manage to limit the increase to 2 degrees, the land and population of Africa will be obliterated.

The consensus was that although it was not overall an uplifting film it did convey the vital importance of people power; the joy and solidarity that working together to combat the climate crisis can bring, along with the assertion that we cannot rely on governments and corporations alone to do the right thing. Some in the audience felt the film did not provide sufficient context and launched into the street protests and activism too soon – and others commented that the crowds of activists at times came across as naïve and hedonistic. Some said that the film would have been improved by focusing more on the actual negotiations and less on the street. Some were surprised to note the sponsorship of COP21 by the likes of ExxonMobil and there was concern that such greenwashing will be repeated at COP26. As in the film, there was strong agreement among the audience that a priority for action should be on campaigning to keep fossil fuels in the ground. 

The participants were encouraged to consider these two final questions in their own time:

  • How can you mobilise your community for climate action?
  • What resources or infrastructure is available to your community or needs to be created to do so?

and to attend a further event to be held by Climate Action East Linton, at which they will have the opportunity to share thoughts, continue the many valuable conversations sparked by the film and to ensure that positive community action is taken. Similarly, Sustaining Dunbar is involved with organising a number of events ahead of COP26, including a pilgrimage from Dunbar to Glasgow and a talk by Alastair McIntosh, the climate author and activist.

This screening of ‘Not Without Us’ provided an ideal opportunity to set the scene and bring people from across East Lothian together as we approach COP26 with a mix of trepidation and hope. 

The film was supplied by Take One Action supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI. We are grateful to funding from SCCAN to finance both the film from Take One Action and hire of the Community Hall.