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Hollywood spiels for climate change

March 2, 2016

Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio finally got his colleagues’ approval for his acting craft. He won as best actor of this year’s Academy Awards. The popular actor also got to pitch for climate change after embracing the role of a frontiersman in the movie “The Revenant” that won him the award.

In his acceptance speech after winning his first Oscar, DiCaprio took the opportunity to speak about the issue of climate change as an issue for the most vulnerable sectors of society – from indigenous communities to future generations.

“Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It’s the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating,” the actor said in his speech. “The Revenant” is a case in point.

“We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this,” DiCaprio pointed out.

The UN Environment Program (UNEP), in its official Twitter account, hailed DiCaprio for this message he delivered to the world at the live telecast of the Academy Awards at Hollywood in Los Angeles, California: “Congrats to @UN Messenger of Peace & Environmentalist @LeoDiCaprio on his #Oscars win!”

We have our own climate change champion here in the Philippines, Sen. Loren Legarda who was among the people in this part of the world to congratulate DiCaprio through her official Twitter account: “Climate change is real. Congrats #LeoDiCaprio! #oscars2016 #bestactor #Revenant. A former broadcaster before she turned to politics, and multi-awarded as a journalist, Legarda has taken to heart the issue of climate change. As someone who grew up in flood-prone Malabon, she was exposed early to the importance of taking care of one’s environment. She saw for herself how irresponsible garbage disposal added to the problem of low-lying areas in Metro Manila and contributed to severe flooding, especially during typhoon season.

On her second and last term as senator, Legarda, in her continuing single-minded dedication and advocacy for this reality check on climate change not only in the Philippines but also on global scale, was recently acknowledged by no less than French President Francois Hollande.

In conferment rites held last Feb. 18 at the French embassy in Makati City, ambassador Thierry Mathou bestowed upon Legarda the title of Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur (Knight in the National Order of the French Legion of Honor). The Legion of Honor is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 and is one of the most prestigious French distinctions.

“There have also been many opportunities for cooperation in the field of cultural and heritage preservation; but nothing can be more pronounced than our joint initiative on climate action,” Legarda said after accepting the award. “My journey as a ‘legionnaire’ has begun. I recognize that as in any award, there are responsibilities. I intend to fulfill these by serving as a vanguard of our countries’ great alliance,” Legarda vowed.

Legarda, who chairs the Senate committee on climate change, helped in crafting the Manila Call to Action for Climate Change, which was signed by President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III and President Hollande during the latter’s state visit here last year. President Hollande invited Legarda as the Philippines’ representative to the Summit of Conscience for the Climate last year as part of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference.

Legarda was also recently designated by United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon as UN Global Champion for Resilience. Previously, she served a pro bono job as the Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific of the UNISDR (UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction).

When climate change was not even given much attention, Legarda embraced this role for the UNISDR despite its being regarded as some strange terminology during those days. It was not even regarded as a gut issue when she espoused climate change in her campaign when she ran for the second time in May 2010 for the vice presidency. She lost the VP race as voters did not appreciate what climate change was she talking about after Typhoon Ondoy severely inundated Metro Manila and Central Luzon in 2009. At that time, the words “storm surge” were alien to us.

Still fresh in our minds was the devastation brought by tsunami that wiped out Fukishima after the magnitude 9 earthquake that shook Japan in April 2011. Then came Super Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013 unleashing the worst damage in the Philippines in years. This was a month after the magnitude 7.2 earthquake crushed many churches in Bohol.

Incidentally, former Vice President Al Gore, one of the global leaders among climate change advocates, is coming again to our country later this month. Gore is bringing The Climate Reality Project for the next Climate Reality Leadership Training in Manila. For this year, organizers announced the training project intends to focus “not on the destructive impacts of climate change but rather why Vice President Gore is optimistic about humanity’s efforts to combat it.”

As in past years, Vice President Gore outlined the long list of challenges presented by the climate crisis – he famously says, “…every single night on the TV news now is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.”

But us here in the Philippines, climate change has actually altered drastically the pattern of typhoon season in our country. Usually, typhoon season in our country is from June to September. Now, an average of 20 typhoons sporadically visit us throughout the year.

So, we don’t need any Hollywood spiels to tell us about “politics of greed” adding to the degradation of our environment and that climate change is for real. We live on it.

Source: Philstar