Emma Thompson’s view on global warming is, in a sense, fairly simple: “We change or we die.”
The two-time Oscar-winning British actor has thrown her weight behind a march planned for Sunday in Ottawa ahead of the United Nations climate change conference kicking off in France next week. Activists are pushing Canada’s newly minted Liberal government to adopt lofty fossil fuel reduction targets, with an end-goal of a completely clean, renewable economy by 2050.
The march is one of about 2,000 similar events taking place around the world.
“This is a very difficult turning point for the human race,” said Thompson. “We can’t continue on with the system we have. It’s not sustainable.”
Thompson, who’s known for her roles in Sense and Sensibility, The Remains of the Day and the Harry Potter series, is a long-time campaigner for humanitarian causes.
In recent years, she’s focused her efforts on climate change, which, she said, has major implications for problems like conflict, poverty and mass migration. Thompson teamed up with Greenpeace to rally against drilling for oil in the Arctic and to lend support to the community of Clyde River, Nunavut, that’s fighting plans to conduct seismic testing in Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait.
She will be doing the voiceover for an upcoming documentary about the Inuit community.
Thompson doesn’t profess to a deep knowledge of Canada’s climate-change politics, though former prime minister Stephen Harper was “an absolute disaster, of course.”
The 56-year-old said her interest in the polar region and larger effects of climate change was piqued during a 2014 trip aboard a Greenpeace ship to the Arctic, where signs of human interference were “everywhere.”
“We’ve allowed ourselves . . . to turn the earth into a huge rubbish pile,” Thompson told the Toronto Star in the only English-language interview she did in Canada.
Leaders have dragged their heels on climate change, she argued, adding the world wouldn’t be in its current position if countries had followed the Kyoto Protocol, the binding international agreement to limit greenhouse gases that Canada withdrew from in 2011.
The Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization announced this week that 2015 will likely mark a global temperature increase of 1 degree Celsius over the pre-Industrial era. That’s halfway to the threshold that’s widely considered the point of no return on climate change.
“We really have painted ourselves into a corner,” said Thompson. “We are just bonkers, we’re on a complete collision course with utter disaster and we’ve got leaders who won’t admit it.”
Thompson said she’d like to see the Paris talks usher in binding international legislation to reduce the use of fossil fuels. “It’s just talk, it’s all bull---- until you actually walk (the talk),” said Thompson. “We’re perfectly capable of sorting this out, we just need to get it done . . . . If we don’t do that, we get what we bloody well deserve.”