Actor and climate change activist Leonardo DiCaprio spoke about the shifting landscape of belief in climate change when he received an award for his work as a global citizen. He also called climate change the “biggest economic opportunity” in the history of the US, eluding to the job creation possibilities in moving a nation towards renewable energies.
“There are a few, very prominent people that still deny the overwhelming conclusions of the world’s scientists that climate change is largely human-caused and needs immediate urgent attention,” he said, hinting at but not naming Donald Trump as one of them. “To those who may be discouraged by nay-sayers, let me remind you, the environmental awakening is all over the world and the progress we have made so far has always been because of people, not governments,” he urged.
DiCaprio earlier this month met with the US President-elect Donald Trump, and argued that jobs based on saving the environment could boost the economy in a similar way to traditional infrastructure jobs. He and Terry Tamminen, the CEO of the Leonardo DiCapro Foundation, gave a joint presentation to Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka at Trump Tower in New York hours after Trump had nominated climate-sceptic Scott Pruitt to head the EPA.
Trump’s election to the highest office in the free world has alarmed climate scientists and activists, after Trump has clearly stated that he believes climate change is a “hoax, perpetrated by the Chinese.” DiCaprio is not the only major climate player to meet with Donald and Ivanka Trump, as Al Gore had previously met to try and find common ground and to outline the proven science behind it. Ivanka Trump is set to speak out about climate change, even though her father seemingly does not believe in its existence.
“In less than 100 years of our pollution-based prosperity, we humans have put our entire existence in jeopardy,” DiCaprio added at the New York-based event. The Hollywood star has been a UN “peace ambassador” since 2014, and used his role to create a free-to-air documentary called “Before the Flood” which was available on National Geographic’s YouTube channel, but is now circulating elsewhere. The documentary follows him meeting scientists, politicians and people already affected by rising sea levels. He meets with President Barack Obama late on in the film, and will be keen to see the steps he has taken kept in place.
Those wanting to see more regulation to lessen the inevitable effects of climate change will face a tough fight, after Donald Trump has formed a cabinet full of big oil interests and climate deniers. ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is set to become Secretary of State, and with players as powerful as that in the most influential roles in the US, any emission caps look a long way away. That coupled with Trump’s pledge to “rip up the Paris deal on day one” means it could be a long four years for activists, and ultimately a shorter life-span for the planet.