What colour is disaster?

What colour is disaster?

Newly-elected MPs are greeted by the colours of disaster as they’re sworn-in on the first day of Parliament.

What colour is disaster? is a new limited edition print that was delivered to each elected Member of Parliament on the 9th July 2024, the first day of the new Parliament, using the internal parliamentary postal system. Made in an exclusive edition of 650 - one for each MP - this striking and provocative artwork carries urgent messages around climate change that were worryingly absent from the election campaign. 

On first sight, the print looks like a recognisable paint colour chart but in fact each name and description presents a warning of a future that this new cohort of MPs has the power to help change. But the urgent policy shifts needed to prepare us to survive our rapidly changing climate will only happen if the MPs are brave enough to move away from current models of destructive stewardship.

What Colour is Disaster? is inspired by Professor Ed Hawkins ‘warming stripes’, charting rising temperatures since 1850. Last year, due to a dramatic rise in temperature, Professor Hawkins declared that he would likely need a new colour beyond the red zone - into purples, browns and black - to reflect the anticipated temperature rises. What colour is disaster? is a reference card for these new colours with names and descriptions taken from some of the devastating impacts we will experience from extreme heat and flooding.

This is the first artwork of Yauner’s Parliament Editions project which harnesses the power of art to directly influence power holders and create meaningful impact in relation to the climate crisis. The intention is that the value of these works will command attention and eventually find a place to reside in the offices and consciences of the people with the power to make change at scale. 

Climate change and nature loss may not have been at the forefront of UK voters’ minds in the past five weeks but researchers at Chatham House’s Environment and Society Centre, from whose work and ideas Yauner has been drawing inspiration, have clearly demonstrated how deeply intertwined climate change and nature loss is with the issues that matter most to voters (Ipsos Issues Index). 

The colour names suggested in this challenging work are based on Chatham House’s Climate Change Risk Assessment. Many of the impacts described in the assessment will be locked in by 2040, and become so severe that they go beyond the limits of what many nations will be able to adapt to. 

“I believe that art can carry important and urgent ideas and start new conversations. In building this project I have had conversations with lobbyists, civil servants and parliamentary staff - and they all agree that MPs already have an understanding of the issues, but often need to be given the courage to act on it. I hope by living with this beautiful and challenging artwork it can be a vital lever for change.”


Parliament Editions will access the corridors of power via the parliamentary postal system, delivering powerful artworks that address the climate crisis straight to the desks of the United Kingdom’s 650 elected politicians. The playful provocation of Yauner’s print delivers a piece of work which is, at the same time, deeply urgent. The work aims to share access to knowledge with those who have been elected, and in so doing to galvanise opinion and encourage action. 


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