COP26: Virtue signalling celebrities need to leave political summits to the politicians

Leonardo DiCaprio walks through the exhibition hall after attending an event at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow.
Leonardo DiCaprio walks through the exhibition hall after attending an event at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow.

COP26 only goes to highlight celebrity activism for what it is

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Celebrities undeniably have the ability to reach millions of people, in return they feel as though they should speak up about causes that mean something to them. They feel that they have a moral obligation to use their platform for the common good.

However, I can't escape the feeling that these celebrities' moral crusades are driving people away.

Cast your minds back, if you can, to the 2020 Academy Awards. Joaquin Phoenix won the Best Actor award for his role in ‘Joker’. The victorious star would usually thank their fellow nominees, the Academy for the award, as well as the oodles of people that mean something to them, without which their success would be possible.

However, last year, Joaquin Phoenix barely cracked a smile as he sternly spoke of how he wanted to speak ‘for the voiceless’. He claimed to be focused on 'the distressing issues' collectively facing society; systemic inequality, cancel culture, and even the artificial insemination of cows.

It goes without saying that it wasn't the time or the place.

Hollywood has become a place where making good films is not enough; people feel they have to do something resembling social activism.

It's gesture politics, nothing more.

The COP26 climate conference is but another stage upon which Hollywood stars wish to perform.

As world leaders attempt to thrash out policies to save the planet, the last thing we need is millionaire Leonardo DiCaprio jetting in from LA to strut around the crowds posing for selfies.

I also struggle to take Jeff Bezos seriously on the climate question. The Amazon godfather, who spent millions on a trip to space, appearing at a conference where reducing emissions is top of the agenda is a little rich.

I think it’s safe to say that celebrity activism does not work, it only drives people away.

We don’t want to listen to people living in mansions worth millions and take flights in private jets. It’s out of touch with the every day struggle of navigating a post pandemic world.

COP26 only goes to highlight celebrity activism for what it is, a grandstanding and glorified photo opportunity.