At a festival in Poland, the actor says citizens can meet environmental commitments “without the permission of the U.S. government.”
Edward Norton said Friday that citizen activism had the power to neutralize Donald Trump’s opposition to global climate change accords.
The actor and environmental campaigner said the U.S. President’s decision in early June to formally pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord was irrelevant when states such as New York and California had committed to tackling global warming at a local level.
The actor was speaking in Poland, where he noted the power of citizen activism in a reference to current mass nationwide demonstrations against moves by the government to undermine judicial independence. He said the environmental commitments of New York state and California would fill the hole left by Trump’s decision to walk away last month from the climate accord.
Giving a Master class in Lodz, Poland, where Norton was due later Friday to be honored with a “Glocal Hero” award at the closing of the 7th edition of the Transatlantyk Film Festival, Norton said between them, New York and California represent the “third largest economy in the world.” The commitment of those two states, along with a further “40 or 50” mayors and municipalities across the United States, would more than make up for the formal abandonment of the climate change treaty by the U.S. government, he said.
“The truth is that the citizens of the U.S do not need Donald Trump to stay in the Paris Climate Accord,” the actor told an audience of more than 1,000 at a Masterclass hosted by the festival in the Grand Theater in Lodz.
Referring to mass protests across Poland over moves to replace the country’s independent judiciary with politically appointed judges, Norton added: “Talking about what is taking place in Poland today, we are at a moment when people are shocked about the apparent deconstruction of democratic principles, but we must remember that with technology and the network effect of the global community, it is much harder now for the political matrix to isolate people and control them.”
Norton, who is the UN’s Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity, added: “Whether it is individuals or cities or states, our capacity to create a shift through lots of determined local personal efforts, is real and it is actually happening.”
Dubbing Trump’s opposition to action on climate change “unbelievably regressive,” he said: “The truth is, that if you look, despite how terrifying the prospect of global environmental collapse is, looking at it from a slightly more optimistic angle, we have really only been aware of this for a few decades.”
“The truth is that out awareness and global generational acceptance that this is happening on a historic scale is moving fairly fast. I do think the era of denial is falling behind us.”
Norton said he was confident that, given the speed of change over the past two decades, he was confident positive change would come in the next 20 years: “It is a weird and frightening moment now, but there are also lots of signals that a global citizenry can make things happen. Ultimately, Exxon will suffer more. I think we are going to win.”