Leonardo DiCaprio met with Donald Trump on Wednesday to discuss the potential of the renewable energy sector to create millions of new jobs. DiCaprio was joined by Terry Tamminen, the CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, for the meeting in Trump Tower with the president-elect and his daughter Ivanka. In a statement to the Associated Press, Tamminen, a former secretary of California’s Environmental Protection Agency, said the following.
“Today, we presented the President-elect and his advisors with a framework — which LDF developed in consultation with leading voices in the fields of economics and environmentalism — that details how to unleash a major economic revival across the United States that is centered on investments in sustainable infrastructure.”
DiCaprio has become one of Hollywood’s most visible environmental campaigners, raising awareness of the perils of global warming as the United Nation’s representative on climate change and addressing global leaders on the urgent need to shift to renewable energy sources.
The award-winning actor established the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1997. To date, the foundation has provided nearly $60 million in grants to environmental organizations around the world.
During the 90-minute meeting, DiCaprio and Tamminen presented Donald Trump with a copy of DiCaprio’s documentary, Before the Flood, in which he meets with climate experts who sound the alarm about the catastrophic effects that global warming will have on the planet unless we drastically cut CO2 emissions. According to Tamminen, Trump was receptive and invited them to meet again in January.
“We look forward to continuing the conversation with the incoming administration as we work to stop the dangerous march of climate change, while putting millions of people to work at the same time,” said Tamminen.
Donald Trump’s position on climate change remains non-committal, leaving environmental campaigners deeply concerned about what kind of a relationship they can expect to have with a have with President-elect Trump. Labeled as a climate change denier for calling it a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to harm U.S. industry, Trump later claimed that the statement was intended as a joke. More recently, in an interview with the New York Times, Trump admitted that there was “some connectivity” between human activity and climate change, going on to say that he was open to the idea of keeping the U.S. signed up to the Paris Climate Agreement.
During the campaign, Trump railed against the agreement as another regulatory burden on American industry and promised to cancel it. Since his election, stock prices of oil and gas companies have rallied in the belief that he will follow through on his other campaign promise to deregulate fossil fuels and ramp up their production.
Soon after he met with Leonardo DiCaprio, Donald Trump announced his nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruit is a staunch critic of the agency and is currently involved in a legal challenge to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of Obama’s environmental legislation, which aims to cut CO2 production by 30 percent over 2005 levels.
Pruitt, who has called climate science “far from settled,” has close ties to the oil and gas lobby in Oklahoma. A 2014 New York Times investigation found evidence of his close collaboration with fossil fuel companies to file lawsuits against environmental legislation. Since 2002, Pruitt has accepted over $300,000 dollars in campaign finance from the fossil fuel industry.
If any hopes were raised that the meeting between Leonardo DiCaprio and Donald Trump could be read as a sign that the president-elect might be more receptive to environmental concerns, his near-immediate nomination of Pruitt to head up the EPA will have seen those hopes swiftly dashed.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]