Global movie star, documentary maker and UN special envoy Leonardo DiCaprio helped climate action get some much-needed attention in a year dominated by news about politics.
Let’s explore some of DiCaprio’s key moments in 2016, the year that scientists confirmed that celebrity power matters and dubbed it the ‘DiCaprio Effect.’
1 His Oscar speech
Some 34 million people who tuned in to this year’s live Oscars broadcast were treated to a call to climate action. The Titanic veteran finally won his first Oscar and he used his thank you speech to stress: “Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.”
2. His address at the Paris Agreement signing ceremony
Before the opening ceremony kicked off, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made time to meet with actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio. Footage from the meeting later appeared in DiCaprio’s Before The Flood documentary. The Secretary General went on to introduce DiCaprio to global climate leaders assembled in the UN’s General Assembly hall.
3. The premiere and global release of his new documentary
The Oscar-winning Titanic star and environmental advocate celebrated the world premiere of his much-anticipated climate change documentary Before The Flood – the highest-profile environmental film since Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth‘ – at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The film was released globally in October and available online for free for a limited period.
4. His interview with Barack Obama
DiCaprio spoke to a realistic but optimistic outgoing US president Barack Obama as part of his new climate change documentary. He asked Obama what would happen if a future president wouldn’t believe in climate science. “Reality has a way of hitting you in the nose if you’re not paying attention,” Obama replied, saying that he has faith in the electorate’s increased understanding of the science “because it’s indisputable.”
5. His new European role
On 1 April, social media was abuzz with the story about DiCaprio’s new European role. He would be the new international face of Climate-KIC, the European Union’s initiative to fight climate change through innovation, the story said.
6. His surprise appearance in Scotland
While participants at the COP22 climate summit were still wondering if DiCaprio would attend the conference in Marrakesh, the star was spotted in Scotland where he reportedly arrived by bus. Celebrity compiled the evidence in a Twitter moment and reported the climate change activist was scheduled to speak at the Scottish Business Awards.
7. His participation in Earth to Marrakesh
DiCaprio did not end up making an appearance at the climate summit, but he did get involved in the Earth to Marrakesh campaign via social media. The campaign follows up on last year’s #EarthToParis campaign which focused on sending messages to world leaders to sign the Paris Agreement.
8. The discovery of the ‘DiCaprio effect’
Researchers determined that when Leonardo DiCaprio calls for climate action, tweets and Google searches about the topic are enormous. They also concluded based on analyses between 2011 and now that a new record was set during DiCaprio’s Oscar speech. “A single speech, at a very opportunistic time, at the Oscar ceremony, resulted in the largest increase in public engagement with climate change ever,” John Ayers of San Diego State University told the Washington Post.
9. The rumours about his next project
DiCaprio is rumoured to be working on the movie remake of popular 1990s cartoon show Captain Planet. Originally broadcast from 1990 until 1996, the Captain Planet series was a form of edutainment and promoted environmentalism through an animated story that revolved around five teenagers known as the Planeteers, aided by superhero Captain Planet.