Celebrity climate advocates use star power to boost UN talks
LE BOURGET, France – On most days, the smartphones and cameras swarming around actor Alec Baldwin would be held by fans and paparazzi.
But on Tuesday, December 8, the gadgets were held by diplomats, journalists, and climate activists, as Baldwin visited the Le Bourget conference center, the venue of the UN climate change summit (COP21).
As the crucial climate talks hit crunch time, celebrities like Baldwin are using their star power to help influence negotiators, as well as the general public, on the significance of this global meeting in France.
At the Le Bourget conference center, negotiators from nearly 200 countries are under intense pressure to reach a legally-binding accord that would limit Earth's temperature increase below 2ºC (3.6ºF) – any higher and the planet could potentially face catastrophic consequences.
As of Tuesday, ministers tasked with securing a historic climate-saving pact in Paris confronted the big deal-breakers Tuesday such as mustering hundreds of billions of dollars to help the developing world.
Nations remain divided on how to give funds to developing nations to cope with global warming; how far to limit planetary overheating; how to share the burden between rich and poor nations; and how to review progress in slashing greenhouse gases.
The "30 Rock" actor, for example, has penned opinion pieces on climate in the lead-up to the summit. As negotiators hunkered down for the second week of talks, Baldwin also flew to Paris, and spoke at the Earth to Paris event and at the Equator Prize awarding ceremony.
Other celebrities who have made their presence felt in Paris include Leonardo DiCaprio, who spoke in front of mayors from across the globe for the "Cities for Climate" event at the Paris city hall Friday, December 4.
In his speech, the long-time climate advocate said climate negotiators can either settle for a face-saving agreement, or be brave enough to steer the planet into a better direction.
"Do not wait another day. Please do not let fear and doubt slow you down," DiCaprio, a UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change, told the mayors assembled at the Hotel de Ville. "Be bold, be courageous, do everything in your power to change our current course."
DiCaprio was joined at the mayors' event by actor and filmmaker Robert Redford, who told the audience that climate change is an issue that is "even more urgent than ever."
"This has to be the time because we're running out of time. It's been so many years but there's no more time," Redford told People magazine at the sidelines of the climate talks.
Action star Arnold Schwarzenegger also flew to Paris for COP21 to advocate clean energy, and to meet with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Speaking to BBC, the former California governor said politicians should take action on climate change now: "Right now, 7 million people are dying every year. Nineteen thousand a day...that is alarming. And everyone in government has a responsibility to protect the people....They have to do something about it."
Other celebrities spotted in and around climate events in Paris were "Entourage" star Adrian Grenier; actor Sean Penn; and singer Angelique Kidjo.
Hollywood stars were joined by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former US vice president Al Gore, also lending their influence.
As the talks go on in conference rooms and plenary halls in the outskirts of the French capital, these big names in showbusiness, business, and philanthropy are banking on their influence to convince diplomats to seal the deal and avert disaster.
"We didn't come to Paris to make history. We came to shape the future," Bloomberg said. – With reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com