Hollywood Star Jane Fonda to Press Climate Change Content During Conference

Hollywood Star Jane Fonda to Press Climate Change Content During Conference
Jane Fonda attends "Common Ground" premiere during the 2023 Tribeca Festival at Village East Cinema in New York on June 8, 2023. (Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival)
Carly Mayberry
Hollywood A-listers are ramping up their environmental activism and efforts to push the climate agenda in entertainment content during this week’s Hollywood Climate Summit.

The annual three-day conference, which is taking place from June 21–24, creates a community space for entertainment and media professionals to collaborate on climate issues. As described by Agence France-Presse, the gathering unites thousands of filmmakers with activists and scientists in a bid to “change the industry’s culture and to encourage movies and TV shows to use their outsized influence on audiences around the world.”

This year’s headliners include Tinsel Town heavyweight and long-time activist Jane Fonda and “Everything Everywhere All At Once” producer and director Jonathan Wang, among others.

Fonda will lead a talk with frontline and fence-line climate activists Nalleli Cobo, YoNasDa Lonewolf, Sylvia Arredondo, and environmental reporter Emily Atkin to discuss Senate Bill 1137. The California bill on the 2024 ballot would prohibit new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals; and require companies to adopt health, safety, and environmental requirements.

Fonda has been a staple in the climate change world along with other areas of activism throughout her life. She first made headlines for her advocacy back in 1972 when she visited North Vietnam and drew criticism for speaking on Radio Hanoi, denying the reported conditions that American POWS were experiencing. Posing for a photo on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun raised the ire of many veterans and the South Vietnamese as well, earning her the nickname “Hanoi Jane.”

Since then, she’s spoken out about the Iraq War, civil rights, and both feminist and environmental issues.

During a recent talk at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the 85-year-old blamed racism and the patriarchy for climate change.

“We’ve got about seven, eight years to cut ourselves in half of what we use of fossil fuels, and unfortunately, the people that have the least responsibility for it are hit the hardest—Global South, people on islands, poor people of color,” said Fonda. “It is a tragedy that we have to absolutely stop. We have to arrest and jail those men—they’re all men [behind this].”

Summit Founders Aim to Incorporate Climate Message Into Content

In terms of the upcoming Summit, its co-founder and TV writer Ali Weinstein noted the urgency of taking action.

“Hollywood is an extremely powerful industry,” said Weinstein in the AFP story. “We are on the precipice of cultural change in many ways.”

The gathering comes after a recent study by the Norman Lear Center and the renewable energy company Good Energy, which found the climate crisis was “virtually non-existent” in scripted entertainment, according to the AFP.

That analysis noted that less than three percent of around 37,000 television and film scripts made since 2016 mentioned “any climate-related keywords” while only 0.6 used the words “climate change.”

“We see this as a huge problem because, for the most part, people on average spend more time with television and film characters than they do with their own families,” fellow Summit co-founder Heather Fipps told the AFP. “It is really important for us to steep our fictional worlds in our reality.”
This year’s Summit takes place after a 2019 study published in the journal Annals of Tourism Research by lead author Steffan Gossling that showed Hollywood celebrities and wealthy business leaders have carbon footprints 300 times larger than the average citizen. In essence, the analysis put a spotlight on the hypocrisy of those who promote climate change yet don’t fly on regular commercial flights. Information was obtained from researchers searching through reports and the social media pages and accounts of these prominent people.

Bill Maher Calls Out Hollywood Hypocrisy Toward Climate Advocacy

It’s a point made by comedian and political commentator Bill Maher who in March of this year criticized Hollywood environmentalists like Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney who constantly fly on private jets during an episode of his Club Random podcast.

As featured guest Arianna Huffington spoke about how the “growing inequalities have gotten infinitely worse,” Maher replied “Well, mostly because of you.”  That instigated Huffington to respond “No, mostly because of you! Mostly because of you flying on private planes.”

To that, Maher replied, “I can stand being a bad environmentalist because we all really are,” he said, noting the entire elite class that preaches about the environment but flies around the world and owns multiple homes spewing more emissions in a year than most people do in a lifetime. “I cannot stand being a hypocrite. And every single person who can fly in a private jet, including you, including George Clooney and everybody else ... I love these people. But, we all do it.”

As a seasoned journalist and writer, Carly has covered the entertainment and digital media worlds as well as local and national political news and travel and human-interest stories. She has written for Forbes and The Hollywood Reporter. Most recently, she served as a staff writer for Newsweek covering cancel culture stories along with religion and education.
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