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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Optimism needed in climate change battle, says actor and UN goodwill ambassador Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
WASHINGTON D.C.: Climate change is a monumental issue but if humanity is to effectively address and combat the threats it poses, it must do so with optimism, according to Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who is a goodwill ambassador for the UN Development Program.
The “Game of Thrones” star was speaking on Monday on the sidelines of the opening day of the 78th UN General Assembly in New York, which continues until Sept. 18 against a backdrop of concerns about climate change, growing levels of poverty, inequality and food insecurity, war, and rising inflation in many parts of the world.
He said he attempts to adopt an optimistic view in considering the challenges of climate change but warned it is an issue every nation in the world needs to take very seriously. Yet, he added, not all nations are doing all that they could, or need, to be doing to help reduce the effects on the planet.
According to UN officials, only about 15 percent of the goals set as part of global efforts to reduce the effects of climate change are on track to be achieved.
In an upcoming documentary series for Bloomberg Originals titled “An Optimist’s Guide to the Planet,” due to premier next year, Coster-Waldau will be seen traveling the world to learn more about a number of potential solutions to environmental problems.
Explaining the idea behind the series, he said he wanted to do something that focused on the issue of climate challenges and came up with the idea of a program that highlights new ideas from people around the world for tackling the issues associated with climate change, to “inspire hope and optimism.”
He said that during his travels he learned about various potential solutions to the environmental problems nations are facing as a result of the effects of climate change.
In Africa, for example, he said he met members of Maasai tribes who live in harmony with nature and animals. He also visited the Japanese city of Fukushima, which was the site of a major accident at a nuclear power plant in 2011 that had severe repercussions for the environment in Japan and further afield.
Coster-Waldau said he understands the arguments on both sides of the debate about climate change and believes it is a mistake to simply instill fear and sense of doom about the issue, because that is counterproductive. There is often a tendency, among people on both sides of the argument, to ignore what the science says about their positions if it does not fit their respective narratives, he added.
“The sad part is that both sides are right and wrong at the same time,” he said. “We have a long way to go. We know the challenges are immense, and are even monumental.
“There is a danger if we constantly are talking about fear and doom, or that there is no going back.”
People must be ready to consider and accept new ideas and solutions, and need to be prepared to make a “transition and take steps and speed it up.”
Coster-Waldau said that research for his TV documentary found that only about 8 percent of people believe climate change is a hoax. Humans bear the responsibility for the effects of climate change on all living things on the plant, he added, and are themselves “part of the earth’s ecosystem … an integral part of it.”
He added: “This made me think, we are not aliens on this planet, we are just another species on this planet and that’s a lot of responsibility.”
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