Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio visited India last week for a sit-down interview on climate change with Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). He wanted to understand our perspectives on the issue and discuss how the world should work together to combat catastrophic climate change. We discussed that the world needs an ambitious and equitable agreement on climate change. But this cannot happen unless we are willing to discuss the issue of consumption and lifestyle – US lifestyle has to be negotiable, we emphasised.
After this sit-down interview, we visited Kheladi village in Mewat district of Haryana. We wanted Leonardo to see the impact of unseasonal weather on farmers of our country. In this village, he saw acres of productive farmland that were still under water, because of extreme rain that had hit the district in mid-September. Farmers said that they did not know if this was climate change, but they told Leonardo, in no uncertain words, that their experience of over 50 years in farming was telling them that there was something new and catastrophic afoot.
In these villages, Leonardo saw women cooking using cow dung and firewood. Even in households which had LPG connections, it was too expensive to use and so women continued to cook using these polluting sources. We discussed at length the issues of energy poverty and how renewable energy could be the way ahead, but only if the world accepted that it needed to provide funds to make the transition to clean energy futures.
It was a fascinating and enriching day for us and we hope, for Leonardo as well. His deep commitment to environmental change was evident. But what was also clear is that Leonardo DiCaprio is a celebrity environmentalist with a difference – he is willing to confront difficult and contested questions because he knows only then can we jointly find resolution to the coming challenge of a climate-risked world.
Sunita Narain and the CSE team
Leonardo DiCaprio and Sunita Narain at Kheladi village in Haryana.
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