UN to release ‘Hard Rain’ film with Bob Dylan tune on eve of climate talks

30 November 2009 – Just a week before the United Nations climate change conference begins in Copenhagen, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today it will help release a rare live recording of Bob Dylan performing his 1962 song-poem A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall set to dramatic photographs of shrunken ice caps, barren landscapes, and devastated lives.

Hard Rain: Our Headlong Collision with Nature by photographer Mark Edwards and Mr. Dylan will be released on DVD at the opening of the Hard Rain exhibition in Copenhagen on 6 December – the eve of the climate conference. The release is being done in partnership with UNEP.

“The dark and evocative lyrics of A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall echo the kind of impacts the world faces if climate change continues unchecked,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP’s Executive Director. “But Bob Dylan had another song. One that reflects a strong and positive Copenhagen outcome that puts the world on a low-carbon path – The Times They Are A-Changin.”

The DVD is accompanied by The Urgency of Now, a specially commissioned essay by author and activist Lloyd Timberlake. The essay title was inspired by a response to Hard Rain from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“If Hard Rain is a photographic elegy,” said Mr. Brown, “it is also an impassioned cry for change. Forceful, dramatic and disturbing, it is driven by what Martin Luther King called ‘the fierce urgency of now’ – and I believe the call for a truly global response to climate change is an idea whose time has finally come.”

Mr. Brown is one of at least 80 heads of State and government expected to attend the 7-18 December conference.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will also participate. This weekend, the Secretary-General called on world leaders to agree to a deal that is as ambitious as possible, even if imperfect. “We need every country on board. We need you on board. The world needs your support at this critical moment.”

Mr. Timberlake's essay focuses on a key dilemma facing the climate negotiators. “Poor countries will not accept a climate change treaty that prevents them from developing,” he writes.

“We have to give governments a constituency to reinvent the modern world so that it's compatible with nature and human nature,” said Mr. Edwards. “Political change comes only when people form a movement so large and inclusive that governments have no choice but to listen – and act. The last verse of Dylan's song begins: ‘What'll you do now?’ It's a question that cannot be left hanging when the Copenhagen talks come to a close.”

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Ban calls on States to ensure climate change deal has broad support

Related Stories