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The brandalism take overvia

Artists critique climate change summit with fake ads

‘Brandalism’ is spreading through Paris as the art world finds a subversive way of working around the current ban on protesting publicly

Mass marches during the U.N. climate change summit have been banned because of security issues post-Paris attacks. Organising publically has been shut down. But artists have found a subversive way to work around this. They’re calling it "Brandalism".

Fake ads have popped up across Paris, covering bus stops, stealthily infiltrating society. The campaign, which aims to highlight the links between the advertising of big global brands, fossil fuels and climate change, isn’t just a product of Parisian artists. Over 80 artists from 19 countries across the world contributed to 600 fake adverts, including Banksy collaborator Paul Insect, Jimmy Cauty and Neta Harari.

Each ad criticises a different corporate sponsor of the summit – ironically brands who contribute in their own way to the actual problem of global waming – from AirFrance to Mobi. You can’t ignore the corporate greenwashing of the summit: in 20 years of these U.N. climate change talks, global emissions have risen by 63 per cent. This year’s talks in Paris are being held at an airport and sponsored by an airline. Heads of state have been included in the acts of Brandalism for being complicit in the rapid destruction of the planet: David Cameron, Barack Obama and France’s Francois Hollande, to name a few.

“By sponsoring the climate talks, major polluters such as Air France and GDF-Suez-Engie can promote themselves as part of the solution—when actually they are part of the problem,” said Brandalism’s Joe Elan in a press release. “We are taking their spaces back because we want to challenge the role advertising plays in promoting unsustainable consumerism. Because the advertising industry force feeds our desires for products created from fossil fuels, they are intimately connected to causing climate change.”

This subversion probes one question and it does it well: how can a global agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions be made when the sponsors and leaders responsible are seemingly unwilling to change their ways?