In the days leading up to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26), environmental activists have taken to the streets, flooded social media, and published op-eds to call on world leaders to treat climate change as the crisis it is. With multiple UN reports and alarming scientific projections, it’s clear that if we want to prevent irreversible change, our leaders must take action now.
Global Citizen artist and vocal environmentalist Billie Eilish added her voice to the movement in a video message released on Tuesday by the University of Exeter, Green Futures, and Arctic Basecamp. The video features celebrities, activists, and environmentalists sharing powerful messages on the urgency of climate action for leaders at COP26.
In the video compilation, Eilish, The Office star Rainn Wilson, explorer and author Levison Wood, climate justice activist Daze Aghaji, English actor Cel Spellman, and Robert Irwin, son of Australian conservationist Steve Irwin, called on world leaders to have “courage” and make “major commitments” to save the future of the planet.
“This year our leaders are deciding the global actions required [for] the environment and climate emergency in a critical decade for our planet,” Eilish said in the video. “We must stand together and speak up to save our planet, not just for us but for our future generations.”
The University of Exeter’s video campaign was made in partnership with Arctic Basecamp, a group of Arctic experts and scientists fighting for climate action, and the University of Exeter’s Green Futures which conducts environmental research and creates solutions for the climate crisis.
The urgent video message comes after a flurry of warnings from climate scientists published earlier this week. Two UN reports released ahead of COP26’s kickoff on Oct. 31 detail how many major emitter countries are failing to make the commitments necessary to stop global warming from reaching a critical point of no return. Last week, leaked COP26 documents showed that countries are lobbying the UN to scale back their climate mitigation recommendations.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report published on Tuesday confirmed that we only have eight years left to cut annual greenhouse gas emissions in half in order to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit set by the Paris agreement.
“Courage. That’s what our world’s leaders need more than anything. The decisions that they make about the climate crisis in the next decade are the most important decisions in our planet’s history,” said Wilson. “We need to act with urgency, we need to halve emissions by 2030. World leaders, are you up for it? I am. Let’s try and do the impossible.”
An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “Code Red” report released in August showed the devastating effects of a temperature rise beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius and now the UN predicts that with our current emissions, including new commitments to reduce carbon and greenhouse gases, we’re still on track to surpass the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit and witness increasingly severe weather consequence.
“Unfortunately, climate change has caused weather patterns to completely change the world over. And here in Australia, we’re experiencing environmental change like we’ve never seen before,” Irwin said. “Our leaders are coming together to discuss some of the planet’s biggest issues, including the climate emergency. We must stand together and be brave to save our planet, not only for us, but also for our future generations.”
Scientists, activists, and environmental groups have long pushed to see increased actions at COP26 from leaders on an international and domestic scale. And this isn’t the first time celebrities have joined the fight to push for policy change and global leadership.
Eilish has a history of speaking out against climate change. The vegan “Happier Than Ever” singer has marched with youth climate activist Greta Thunberg, spoken out for the environment on social media and in interviews, put on sustainable world tours, and made a viral video with Woody Harrelson on global warming and extreme weather.
The 19-year-old superstar was one of many musicians who united around the world in September for Global Citizen Live, a 24-hour global call to action, urging leaders and citizens to defend the planet and defeat poverty. Eilish used her moment on stage in New York’s Central Park to call on US President Joe Biden to enact climate policies and deliver the US’ fair share of the $100 billion per year promised for developing nations facing climate change. Thanks to partnerships between government, philanthropy, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector, more than $1.1 billion, 157 million trees, and over 60 million COVID-19 vaccines were announced during the campaign.
But there’s still so much more to be done.
“We need urgent, urgent action now and to work together as one,” Eilish said in the Green Futures video.