Actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio was on hand at the first annual South by South Lawn (SXSL) festival at the White House Monday for a discussion with President Obama about climate change and a screening of his new documentary film about global warming.
After musical performances by The Lumineers and The Dap-Kings, the 41-year-old Revenant Oscar-winner sat down with Obama and Texas Tech University climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe for a discussion about the actor’s new climate change documentary Before the Flood.
The documentary — which follows the actor as he travels the world to learn more about climate change and features appearances from former President Bill Clinton, Obama, Pope Francis, and billionaire tech business magnet Elon Musk — is set to premiere on National Geographic channels on October 30.
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) October 3, 2016
Playing the role of interviewer, DiCaprio thanked Obama first for his administration’s “extraordinary leadership” on environmental issues.
“If you do not believe in climate change, you do not believe in facts … [you] should not hold public office,” DiCaprio said.
Obama warned that the world is in a “race against time” because “climate change is happening at a faster rate than what was predicted even 5 years ago.” While the very mention of a carbon tax received a standing ovation, the President conceded that its fruition in the U.S. is a “ways away.”
The latest Pew poll shows that less than 36% of Americans say they are “deeply concerned” about global climate change. Speaking to the lack of political pressure to act, Obama said the “natural inclination of political systems is to push that stuff off as much as possible,” and believes that innovation and “technological breakthroughs” will help change people’s minds.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump were absent from the event. However, former Clinton rival Sen. Bernie Sanders chimed in on the presidential climate confab on Twitter.
“In order to be a global leader in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the United States must implement a carbon tax #SXSL,” Sanders wrote.
In order to be a global leader in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the United States must implement a carbon tax #SXSL
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 3, 2016
Watch the SXSL Q&A in its entirety in the video below.
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter: @JeromeEHudson