Leonardo DiCaprio slams ‘corporate greed’ of oil, gas and coal sector

DAVOS 2016: Wolf of Wall Street star urges more action on climate change in World Economic Forum speech, announces $15 million in new conservation monies

(Pic: WEF/Flickr)

(Pic: WEF/Flickr)

By Leonardo DiCaprio

Last month in Paris, world leaders reached an historic agreement that provides a concrete framework to reduce carbon emissions. This was an important first step, but we are a long way off from claiming victory in this fight for our future – for the survival of our planet.

The Paris Agreement was a call to action, it is now up to all of us to build on this progress with ingenuity and a commitment to change. Together we are fighting to preserve our fragile climate from irreversible damage, and devastation of unthinkable proportions. I have been travelling the world recently for a documentary about how this crisis is changing the natural balance of our planet.

In Greenland and the Arctic, I was astonished to see ancient glaciers rapidly disappearing well ahead of scientific models. In India, I met farmers who have seen their crops – their very livelihood literally washed away by historic flooding. There is no doubt to the world’s scientific community that this is a direct result of human activity and that the effects of climate change will become astronomically worse in the future.

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Last week President Obama told those who continue to deny the irrefutable science behind climate change that they will find themselves increasingly lonely in a swell of voices calling for action. But studies also show us that those who deny the reality of climate change will also find themselves less economically successful. We simply cannot afford to allow the corporate greed of the coal, oil and gas industries to determine the future of humanity.

Those entities with a financial interest in preserving this destructive system have denied, and even covered-up the evidence of our changing climate. Enough is enough. You know better. The world knows better. History will place the blame for this devastation squarely at their feet. Our planet cannot be saved unless we leave fossil fuels in the ground where they belong. Twenty years ago, we described this problem as an addiction.

Today, we possess the means to end this reliance. Professor Mark Jacobson and a team of researchers at Stanford University have proven that we can meet the world’s total energy demand using existing renewable technology by 2050. To make that potential a reality, we need the collective will and conviction of political, business and philanthropic leaders like you. This transition is not only the right thing for our world, it makes clear economic sense and it is possible within our lifetime.

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A shift of this magnitude will save nearly $42 trillion in global energy costs while creating 20 million new jobs. Over the last several years, organizations and individuals worth 3.8 trillion dollars have already committed to divest their fossil fuel holdings and replace them with new investments in clean, renewable energy projects.

And Leaders like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg and Jeff Bezos have already pledged to help build a zero-emissions future. I ask you to join them, because if we all do our part and act with bold leadership, we can achieve major, meaningful progress.

It is not only an inevitable transition,it is also imperative for the future of our planet. Which brings me to the other side of this very important issue, and the flipside to the environmental crisis…..the protection of our planet’s last remaining natural ecosystems. Ecosystems that provide us with breathable air, drinkable water, fertile soil and bountiful seas.

These complex ecosystems can never be replaced; they are the foundation of our global economy, and more importantly, our interconnected climate – without them life as we know it will simply collapse. Fifteen years ago today, I developed my foundation to focus on these critical issues.

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Currently, less than 3% of all philanthropic giving goes to defending our planet. Given this limited support, it’s no surprise that roughly only 2% of our oceans and 12% of our lands are formally protected from invasive human activity like commercial fishing, agriculture, logging and energy extraction.

Again 3% of all philanthropic giving goes towards the protection of our ONLY home, planet earth. Today at LDF, we are achieving tangible exciting results with over 70 partners across 40 countries, and in all 5 oceans.

By working with the innovative grassroots organizations and leaders we have quickly donated critical funding they need torapidly scale up their work. Over the last decade, we have provided direct grants to support projects that have expanded protected areas on land and at sea, protecting iconic endangered species and empowered indigenous communities to fight back against corporate encroachment on their lands.

But this number needs to grow, and with your help and partnership, it will. Generosity is the key to our future. With that I am pleased to announce today over $15 million in new commitments from LDF to fast-track cutting edge sustainability and conservation projects around the world.

A prime example of climate change and environmental protection is our grant to Rainforest Action Network and their partners on the ground to protect the last remaining rainforests on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra,Over the last year, major fires across Sumatra have released more carbon emissions every day than the daily activity of the entire U.S. economy.

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In an effort to protect these last remaining rainforests – the vital lungs of our planet – our foundation is funding their effort to preserve 6.5 million acres from the invasive and destructive practices of the palm oil industry. We are underway with similar efforts in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador, where we are supporting the Ceibo Alliance, an indigenous effort to stop rampant and destructive oilextraction that is poisoning their lands and communities.

In the United States, we are partnering with the Solution Project to promote clean energy and support local efforts to implement these projects in their communities. And in our seas, we have partnered with Google, Oceana and SkyTruth to support Global Fishing Watch – a revolutionary new platform that will actively monitor and ultimately help end the destructive practice of overfishing.

Additionally, we are backing an effort to protect an area the size of Nebraska in the Indian Ocean off the coast of the Seychelles Islands, which is home to vital marine species. Imagine what we can do with more partnerships, and with the alliance of many of you in this room. So much can be done if we work together.

With your help, we can quickly identify and fund the most innovative and effective projects that have the greatest potential to avert the crisis we face. As I look across the room I am optimistic that our ability to convene the most significant and influential minds on the planet can result in theglobal transition necessary to protect both our society and our natural world.

The challenge before us requires each and every one of us to take action. We owe this to ourselves, but more importantly to the future generations who are counting on us.

This is an extract of a speech made by Leonardo DiCaprio at the World Economic Forum, Davos on 19 January 2016

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