Conservation & Science

The CO2 A-list: 10 celebrities calling for climate action

Delegates at the 2015 United Nations Conference on Climate Change, or COP21, have spent the past two weeks negotiating an international agreement to slow the pace of climate change, which threatens the health of the global ocean– and our survival. With just one day left before the conference closes, we shine a spotlight on these Hollywood climate activists.

1. Don Cheadle, a global ambassador in the United Nations Environment Programme, participated in a U.N. campaign to raise public awareness of climate change. He’s also a correspondent for Years of Living Dangerously, a new National Geographic Channel series about climate change.

“I hope to use my celebrity to motivate people and contribute to moving our global society back from the brink,” Cheadle says. “What is more important than food and clean air? We need a big push.”

JuliaLouis-Dreyfus, May 2010, by Angela George / Wikimedia Commons.

2. Julia Louis-Dreyfus was one of several celebs who wore green ribbons at the Emmys in September. The ribbons were part of the National Resources Defense Council’s #DemandClimateAction campaign, calling on world leaders to come up with a strong emissions-reduction plan at COP21. Dreyfus has also been an outspoken opponent of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, which President Barack Obama rejected earlier this year.

3. Mark Ruffalo has been out front on COP21, tweeting with the hashtag #KeepItInTheGround—a call to leave fossil fuels locked up underground instead of mining them, burning them and releasing carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. Ruffalo, a longtime supporter of clean energy, backed a crowdfunding campaign to light up the Eiffel Tower during the conference, using only human power generated by biking, rowing and dancing. (Unfortunately, the installation was canceled due to security concerns.)

Mark Ruffalo by Cpl. Michael C. Guinto, via Wikimedia Commons

“There’s a big movement to shift completely away from fossil fuels, which is, I think, the greatest thing we could do,” Ruffalo told The Hollywood Reporter. “And not only for climate change, but for the four to seven million people a year who die from fossil fuel pollution [and] the degradation of water.”

4. Leonardo DiCaprio has called climate change the top environmental challenge. His charitable foundation provides funding for a broad spectrum of environmental causes, including projects to reduce fossil fuels and increase renewable energy. DiCaprio co-produced and narrated the documentary film The 11th Hour, highlighting planetary threats like global warming. As a U.N. Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change, DiCaprio is attending COP21, along with Robert Redford and Sean Penn. He spoke in Paris to a gathering of local elected officials from around the world:

Leonardo DiCaprio (Berlin Film Festival 2010) by Siebbi_Wikimedia Commons
Leonardo DiCaprio (Berlin Film Festival 2010) 2 by Siebbi –

“Climate change is the most fundamental and existential threat to our species,” he told them. “The consequences are unthinkable and worse, it has the potential to make our planet unlivable. So to all the mayors and governors in this room today, I implore you to join with your peers to commit to moving to no less than 100-percent renewable energy as soon as possible. Do not wait another day.”

5. Sigourney Weaver says the decisions we make now about climate change will have significant impacts on future generations. In a Dec. 9 op-ed for Newsweek, she writes:

Sigourney Weaver, by David Shankbone via Wiki Commons

“I care deeply about the oceans; I have lived beside them most of my life and worked to protect their marine life. Yet even the mighty seas are vulnerable to climate change: Carbon pollution turns ocean water acidic, and rising acidity makes it harder for creatures like mussels, oysters and corals to build shells. Scientists say marine species may not survive so radical a shift in chemistry. I don’t want to leave my daughter a world without fish and vibrant fishing economies—or a world where island nations and coastal communities live in fear of rising tides. We can do better, and we must.”

6. Jared Leto narrated a PSA about climate change, set in the heart of the Arctic to spotlight communities and habitats  on the front lines of climate change. The video (a collaboration of the Sierra Club, the Environmental Media Association and RYOT) was released in advance of the COP21 conference.

“Climate change affects all life on this planet,” Leto says. “I hope world leaders recognize that people around the globe want and need them to step up and work together starting at the U.N. Climate Summit and beyond, to fight the climate crisis. Humanity depends on it.”

Q’Orianka Kilcher, by alotofmillion, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

7. Q’orianka Kilcher joined singers including Fergie, Nicole Scherzinger and Paul McCartney on “Love Song to the Earth,” raising awareness of climate change. Proceeds went to Friends of the Earth U.S. and the U.N. Foundation. She is also a supporter of Sierra Club’s #ActInParis campaign for a strong COP21 agreement.

8. Jack Black took a moment to spoof (and leverage) celebrity activism in a video that begins: “This isn’t about a celebrity inspiring you to take part, or a company trying to sell you something…This is about all of us. Everything we know. Everyone we love. And our survival.” It’s part of the U.N. Foundation’s #EarthToParis campaign, urging people everywhere to tell their leaders to make firm climate commitments.

Adrian Grenier, by Geoff Livingston CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

9. Adrian Grenier appeared with Mission Blue Founder Sylvia Earle and world-renowned conservationist Jane Goodall at COP21 this week. In an interview with Fusion, Grenier urges people to get engaged with causes they care about. His vision of the future is hopeful.

“Now we have a world of support to try to heal our oceans and clean them and stop overfishing, so that the oceans can replenish themselves of the vital wildlife that make them beautiful,” he says. “I think we’re all going to start participating.” 

10. Harrison Ford is the ocean in this Conservation International video about the impacts of climate change on the global sea. The video is part of the nonprofit’s Nature Is Speaking series, which reminds us that nature doesn’t need people; people need nature. (Also in the series: Julia Roberts is Mother Nature, Lupita Nyong’o is a flower, Penelope Cruz is water, Edward Norton is soil, Reese Witherspoon is home, Liam Neeson is ice, Robert Redford is a redwood, Ian Somerhalder is a coral reef and Kevin Spacey is the rainforest.)

-Kera Abraham Panni

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