Texts for the series Climate Tribunal, by Paolo Cirio. 2021
Climate Tribunal is a large body of works by Paolo Cirio about climate justice from a legal and economic standpoint.

Cirio presents the international tribunal of climate crimes with a vast body of material drawn from his research on the climate crises. Using prints on canvas, fabric and paper on which he intervenes, Cirio’s informational visuals feature scientific and economic data, legal documents and biological studies. The colors, notations and compositions highlight specific evidence that illustrate the legal accountability fossil fuel companies have, creating greater public engagement with this complex theme.

Cirio aims to shift the cultural perspective on the responsibility for the current climate and ecological crisis, from individual citizens to the real culprits that remain unpunished. With this provocation, Cirio accuses the major oil, gas and coal companies in court with data and documents on climate change that directly correspond to their greenhouse gas emissions. The tribunal enables thousands of natural species–including humans– and damaged ecosystems to seek financial compensation from those who have caused the climate crisis on a massive scale. Court documents and graphics are presented as evidence, climate crisis experts intervene as witnesses, and visitors to the exhibition participate as a jury, with the potential to evaluate the evidence or identify as an injured party.

For his Climate Tribunal, Paolo Cirio combines the legal concept of “environmental personhood” with the “right of nature” jurisprudential theory, informed by climate change litigations, ecocide bills, and global climate treaties. Central to Cirio’s concept of tribunal is the historical study Carbon Major Database” by the Climate Accountability Institute, the first that established precise responsibilities each international fossil fuel firm has. The 100 major fossil fuel producers have generated over 70% of greenhouse gas emissions,making them the greatest threat to ecosystems and their endangered species.

Descriptions of the works in the series Climate Tribunal by Paolo Cirio. 2021

Climate Species Plaintiffs
Panels of prints on watercolor paper in B/W A5.
Extinction Claims
Online platform, data and prints.
Cirio aggregated data of over 40,000 species at risk of extinction and published them on the website, Extinction-Claims.com, where visitors can claim financial compensation from major fossil fuel firms on behalf of endangered species. The installation consists of panels with hundreds of photographs of animal, insects, and plant species that are at risk of extinction.

Climate Ecosystems Plaintiffs
3 prints on cotton fabric, 150x200 cm each.
This work consists of three semi-transparent fabric prints that include photographs of ecosystems, glaciers, rivers, lakes and forests of the world. These ecosystems, being victims of climate change, are critical environments in which all living species are immersed, and should therefore be of primary concern and preserved with economic compensation.

Climate Human Plaintiffs
Online platform, data and prints.
Visitors are invited to fill out an online form created by Cirio, where they can indicate how they have been personally harmed by climate change, and what financial compensation they expect from major fossil fuel firms. In the installation, these claims are printed and displayed on a bulletin board.

Climate Culpable
24 flags, fabric prints, 140x100 cm each.
This work consists of 24 fabric flags featuring the logos of the 24 major fossil fuel firms responsible for over 50% of total global emissions. Cirio blacked the flags with motor oil, creating an installation that invites audiences to reflect on the grim principles these companies have adopted. These fossil fuel firms are mostly unknown to the general public, as they operate in secrecy without any legal responsibility and often in countries with authoritarian governments.

Climate Sentence
1 canvas printed and painted in acrylic.
This work consists of a printed canvas showing a list of major fossil companies and their emissions. This document from the 2017 historical study, “Carbon Major Database”, is the first that established precise responsibilities each international fossil fuel firm has. National companies are highlighted in orange, while private companies are marked in yellow. Cirio then designed an algorithm to process this data and calculate the financial compensations with respect to the economic damage caused by each company.

Climate Legal Evidence
4 canvases printed in B / W and painted in acrylic.
This work consists of canvas prints of graphs taken from internally commissioned studies by Shell and Exxon in the early 1980s that had assessed the effects of their greenhouse gas emissions. These studies had already precisely established that the emissions would have produced a rise in temperatures, acidification of the oceans, and many other negative effects on the climate. These documents remained undisclosed for decades and are now used as evidence in lawsuits against Shell and Exxon. Cirio highlights the graphs taken from these historical documents by painting them in bright colors.

Climate Newsroom Evidence
3 prints on paper, 130x220 cm each.
This work is composed of newspaper headlines related to the climate crisis that are printed on paper to form a dense column of news. The selected articles represent the research materials which Cirio focused his investigation on, both as an artistic process and as a historical record that portrays the evolution of the climate crisis and its legal, economic and human implications.

Climate Financial Evidence
4 canvases printed and painted in acrylic.
This work is composed of data and graphs selected by Cirio that denounce the major financial institutions and company executives responsible for the climate crisis as indicated by their profits, investments and wages. Cirio’s brush strokes upon the canvas prints highlight key data points on the graphs which make evident the capital availability to provide compensation for the unethical climate crimes they’ve committed.

Climate Anomalies Evidence
17 prints on A2-A3 glossy paper, oil pastels.
This work is composed of maps and satellite photographs provided by NASA, which report the most significant anomalies of temperatures, droughts, fires, and floods in the world. Cirio uses oil pastels to highlight the data shown on these maps, providing comprehensive evidence of the severity of the global climate crisis.

Climate Comparing Evidence
2 painted canvases, 195x200 cm each.
This work consists of a pair of canvases in which two graphs are recreated with hand-drawn brushstrokes. The resulting abstract diagrams compare sea level rise with emissions data from fossil fuel companies on the same time scale. The visual similarities between the two graphs creates a tangible image of the direct connection between the increase in emissions and their natural consequences.

Climate Gas
7 written and colored fabrics. 125x390 cm each
This work consists of tens of meters of painted fabric depicting the chemical symbols of the major greenhouse gases and their symbolic commercial value equivalent to one dollar. The tons of greenhouse gasses produced today are treated as financial vehicles with the “carbon credits” system that allows the industry to keep polluting. Greenhouse gases are assigned a single price that fluctuates according to the market, even if some of them, such as carbon dioxide or methane, have completely different polluting and permanence properties in the atmosphere. Cirio highlights the paradox of the discrepancy between these monetary values ​​and the social and environmental damage each specific greenhouse gas creates.

Climate Geopolitics
1 globe, 1 print on fabric 80x80 cm, 1 table.
This work consists of a globe upon which Cirio notates the complex geopolitics of climate change accountability, in which the major governments responsible for emissions enter into political and economic relations. The globe is displayed on fabric that is printed with data and graphs concerning the major participants in the production and consumption of coal, gas and oil.

Climate Testimony
4 speakers, solar panels, glass ampoules 40x40 cm each.
Cirio conducted audio interviews with experts in climate justice and economics, who represent the witnesses at the tribunal. This installation consists of four speakers positioned inside glass ampoules, powered by photovoltaic panels that turn on automatically with the sun's rays. Each interview runs 10 minutes long with looped audio. Among those interviewed are Ivan Novelli, the president of Greenpeace Italy, Marco Grasso, author of “From Big Oil to Big Green” published by MIT Press, and other experts in environmental law.


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