Don’t tell the newly minted Oscar winner, but China has been the world’s eco-villain for centuries.
DiCaprio made the comments during the Chinese publicity tour for “The Revenant.” That’s the film which earned him his first Oscar last month.
“As we all know, the United States and China are the two biggest contributors, and I think that China has made radical movements forward as far as alternative energy and ways to be sustainable,” said the actor and green campaigner. “I really think that China can be the hero of the environmental movement, they can be the hero of the climate change movement.
“They have an opportunity to change the world and I have all the confidence in the world that that is their intention.”
It’s one thing to praise a country during a publicity tour. Typically a heartfelt, “I love your people” or “my, look at those majestic mountains” is enough. That’s PR 101 for any actor hoping to sell some tickets.
This was different.
And, much like the actor’s personal eco-hypocrisy, it’s hard to take him seriously once again. Consider:
- Don’t Breathe In: Last year, a study suggested that breathing Beijing’s polluted air is like smoking 40 cigarettes a day. Face masks have become a hot item. The nation’s capital is one of several Chinese cities with air quality levels that don’t meet international health standards.
- Two Steps Forward…: In 2013, China gave the green light to a number of plants that convert coal into synthetic natural gas. That process yields far more greenhouse gas emissions than standard natural gas plants. It also uses far more water. The news flew in the face of the government’s vow to embrace cleaner energy production methods.
- Double Check the Math: China is, hands down, the globe’s biggest polluter. Recent reports found that the country’s statistics on coal consumption were seriously under-reported and later adjusted upwards. Chinese officials didn’t explain the change, nor did they respond to Bloomberg News last year for comment.
- History Doesn’t Lie: The Council on Foreign Relations reported in January that China’s environmental problems are nothing new. That suggests they won’t disappear with a few government promises. “The roots of its environmental problem stretch back centuries.” That same report says the Chinese government’s recent five-year plans to battle pollution hold promise, but many critics suggest the country’s “follow-through has been flawed.”
And why is China in this mess? One of the country’s most notable journalists recently created a film on the subject. “Under the Dome” hoped to warn government officials about the country’s enviro-plight. Here’s her rationale for China’s current woes:
She attributed the air pollution to the country’s outdated energy structure, state-owned companies’ monopolistic controls over natural resources, and lack of individual effort and oversight.
Can China be trusted to finally go green? Is its recent, large-scale investment in renewable energy part of a genuine, irreversible trend?
What happens when the nation’s economy continues to cool? Transparency on green measures is already lacking, and this is a country with a shoddy record on that front.
DiCaprio doesn’t seem to care. He’s rather placate the Chinese media to sell some tickets and then literally jet back to his lavish lifestyle.