By Jennifer Zhan, AsAmNews intern
He’ll be playing a villain in Netflix’s upcoming superhero show Jupiter’s Legacy, but in real life, actor Chase Tang is more concerned with doing good.
According to Tang, who has been an advocate for mental health awareness and giving back to the community, acting gives him a platform for his greater passions of philanthropy and activism.
“If you’re blessed where you have an audience, I feel like for you to not take part in these two other areas is very, very shameful,” Tang told AsAmNews. “It should literally go hand in hand — if you are fortunate to get any sort of stardom or attention, you need to leverage that and help other people.”
His latest cause is the planet. In October, the Taiwanese Canadian actor posed with a globe for “The World is in Our Hands,” a United Nations initiative to raise awareness about climate change. Other entertainers participating include Joaquin Phoenix, Alec Baldwin, Antonio Banderas and Susan Sarandon, among others.
In 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a special report warning that significant emission reductions must be made by 2030 in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Even half a degree more of warming, the report said, would mean potentially irreversible changes to Earth’s systems and increased challenges to human health and well-being.
“The World is in Our Hands” is part of the UN’s wider #ActNow campaign, which offers several suggestions on its page that individuals can take to minimize their personal contribution towards climate change, including reducing meat in meals and reusing containers and bags.
“After being part of the campaign, I read in detail the steps of things you can do every day to make small adjustments,” Tang said. “I realized that it wasn’t that I wasn’t putting in the effort. I always had the heart and desire to do these things, but I just didn’t do it properly.”
Tang said he hopes others are inspired to make these changes and even take their own pictures with globes, creating buzz so that more people look into the campaign’s message.
Henry Moss, outreach education and lobbyist for the international grassroots environmental group Citizens’ Climate Lobby, told AsAmNews that awareness is important because many people do not see the effects of global warming.
“If you boil a frog in cold water and put on a slow heat, the temperature changes slowly and the frog never jumps out, it just boils to death,” Moss said. “That’s what’s happening to Mother Earth. That’s why there needs to be an awareness campaign that climate change is real, human-caused, comes from the burning of fossil fuels, and is triggering all sorts of extreme weather events that are happening with greater intensity, frequency and duration.”
He added that due to inaction and non-engagement in the past, the world has unfortunately moved past the point where personal conservation alone could avert a climate disaster.
“It’s got to be all the local efforts, all the country efforts, and then policy that can catalyze global cooperation,” Moss said. “They’re all important, but you have to have leadership in the world. It’s not going to happen any other way.”
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the #ActNow campaign is also designed to accelerate implementation of the Paris Agreement and raise ambition and action around global warming. Two years ago, 200 nations agreed to lower their emissions through the UN Paris Agreement, but progress in implementing commitments has since faltered.
The UN concluded its longest climate talks in nearly 25 years on Sunday and failed to reach a compromise on the global carbon market, Al Jazeera reports. Moss said that while it might be easy to feel discouraged about the future, the public has the power to create change by demanding action from its leaders.
In the U.S., an international grassroots environmental group, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, backs a proposal introduced in Congress as the Energy Innovation Act. It would slowly raise the price on carbon emissions in the country over ten years and place a border tax on international fossil fuel products with the aim of transitioning America away from fossil fuels and using market influence to trigger global cooperation. The U.S. formally withdraws from the Paris Climate Accord in 2020.
Moss said by asking representatives to co-sponsor legislation like the Energy Innovation Act or by participating in climate marches, individuals can create foundational change.
“If you and your family don’t all start getting involved and participate in a transition to clean energy, then we get the world we deserve,” Moss said.
Tang echoes this sentiment of individual empowerment when it comes to the goals of the “The World is in Our Hands” initiative.
“We want people to understand that you don’t need to be part of the entertainment industry, you don’t need to have a big, strong following or anything like that to make a difference on our planet,” Tang said.
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