Leonardo DiCaprio breezes through COP26 security to rub shoulders with heads of state

DiCaprio’s visit to Glasgow follows news of his partnership with Prince Harry to end oil and gas drilling in the Okavango River Basin in Africa

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Even in Glasgow, it’s good to be Leonardo DiCaprio.

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The “Titanic” star turned environmental activist is attending the COP26 climate summit, and while security barred dozens of conference delegates from the rollout of the global methane pledge, DiCaprio made it inside with heads of state.

DiCaprio at one point spoke on the sidelines with White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, who helped develop the methane action plan the U.S. unveiled Tuesday.

U.S. President Joe Biden and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen joined world leaders in a drive to recruit nations to the first-ever pact to reduce emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio talks with White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy during the Global Methane Pledge event in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 2, 2021.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio talks with White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy during the Global Methane Pledge event in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 2, 2021. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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DiCaprio’s visit to Glasgow follows news of his partnership with Prince Harry to end oil and fas drilling in the Okavango River Basin in Africa.

The Titanic star, as well as actors Forest Whitaker and Djimon Hounsou, are working with the Duke of Sussex and conservationists to save the river system that provides water to nearly one million people, as well as surrounding wildlife, in Angola, Namibia, and Botswana.

They are opposing an action by bosses at Reconnaissance Energy Africa, a Canadian oil and gas company, who began drilling in the Okavango River Basin in 2020, despite objections and concern from local communities.

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Leonardo posted a video to his Instagram on 15 October, calling for fans to sign an open letter calling for an end to drilling for fossil fuels in the region.

He and chiefs at his organisation re:wild, who work to protect and restore wildlife around the world, released a statement on Wednesday (20Oct21) that reads, “Re:wild stands with the people of the Okavango River Basin, who depend on the health of the watershed for their survival. ReconAfrica is poised to pollute their farms and destroy a beautiful landscape – one that benefits all life on Earth – forever. Join us by signing the open letter at the link in bio. Together, we can #SaveTheOkavango. For all wildkind.”

Also at stake is the Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage site recognised for its biodiversity, and two Ramsar wetland areas.

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Prince Harry has also shared his thoughts on the issue – last week he co-authored an editorial with Namibian activist, conservationist and poet Reinhold Mangundu in the Washington Post, noting the drilling would cause “permanent destruction” to the area.

“We believe this would pillage the ecosystem for potential profit. Some things in life are best left undisturbed to carry out their purpose as a natural benefit. This is one of them,” the two wrote.

The editorial also cited this month’s (Oct21) disastrous oil leak in southern California: “There is no way to repair the damage from these kinds of mistakes,” the Duke and Mangundu added.

“Drilling is an outdated gamble that reaps disastrous consequences for many, and incredible riches for a powerful few. It represents a continued investment in fossil fuels instead of renewable energies.

“In a region already facing the abuse of exploitation, poaching and fires, the risk is even higher. Knowing the above, why would you be drilling for oil in such a place?”

Leonardo DiCaprio attends on day three of COP26 on day three of COP26 on November 02, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. COP26 is the 2021 climate summit in Glasgow.
Leonardo DiCaprio attends on day three of COP26 on day three of COP26 on November 02, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. COP26 is the 2021 climate summit in Glasgow. Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

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