Actor Robert Redford joined world leaders, legislators, and a handful of celebrities at the Cop21 international climate change conference in Paris over the weekend, where he urged attendees to “change the momentum” to halt global warming, the effects of which are being seen and felt by people “in their own backyard.”
The 79-year-old Oscar-winner and Natural Resources Defense Council Trustee addressed the conference on Sunday, where he called climate change a “global problem and people worldwide are feeling the effects.”
“In America, there are lot of members of the political system who don’t believe the science and they’ve done a lot to stop the conversation,” Redford said, according to People. “But worldwide, I don’t think you can stop that conversation any longer. Because people are feeling climate change in their own backyard, seeing climate change from their homes – there are droughts and rising sea levels and you can’t deny these.”
Redford has long been an advocate for climate change awareness. In 1975, the same year he became an NRDC trustee, the actor lobbied against a proposed power plant in a much-publicized report on 60 Minutes. The plant developers were reportedly forced to scuttle their plans after the report aired.
In an interview with Time, Redford said the American people need to act on climate change even if the country’s leaders won’t.
“You have to move on without [Washington] because if you wait for that you will die and they will still be talking,” he told the outlet. “I guess the optimistic thing is that those people in Congress who are climate deniers, I think their time has run out. From my experience in my country, America over and over again takes itself right to the brink, it puts one foot over but it never goes over. It wakes up at the last minute and says woah, and then pulls back because suddenly they get reasonable.”
Redford was not the only actor to address the climate change conference; according to the New York Times, Leonardo DiCaprio spoke to mayors of cities from all over the world at the Climate Summit for Local Leaders hosted by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Sunday.
DiCaprio said that the Paris conference must produce an agreement, “because we are fundamentally running out of time.”
“Climate change is the most fundamental and existential threat to our species,” the Revenant actor and longtime environmental activist added. “The consequences are unthinkable and worse, it has the potential to make our planet unlivable.”
DiCaprio also met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and thanked him on Twitter for his work at the conference.
Also on hand at Cop21 was two-time Oscar-winner Sean Penn, who met with French President Francois Hollande and also addressed the conference, according to the Daily Mail.
“Perhaps this is the most exciting time in human history,” Penn said.”Those illusions of having too many difficult choices have always created chaos. Now we live in a time where there are no choices. We have certainty. The days of dreams have given way to the days of doing.”
The Cop21 conference began last month and is scheduled to run until December 11.