Pictures courtesy FIA Formula E
Award-winning actor and global
environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio will chair the newly-created Formula E
Sustainability Committee. This body will focus on Formula E’s contributions to
promoting the mass use of electric vehicles, focusing particularly on urban
mobility. The long term imprint of Formula E on the cities where it races, in
both infrastructure and education terms, will be also a focus point of the
The list of committee members
include: Chairman: Leonardo DiCaprio, Members: Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty
Global, Boris Collardi, CEO of Julius Bar Bank, Ken Allen, CEO of DHL Express,
Paul Jacobs, Chairman. Qualcomm, Nicolas
Huss, CEO VISA Europe, Jean-Dominique Senard, CEO Michelin, Jean Claude Biver, CEO TAG Heuer, Simon Freer,
Chairman FEH and Alejandro Agag, CEO Formula E Holdings
As a forum for major global
corporations who are all linked by a common concern for sustainability, the
committee will drive a greater level of social responsibility in how they do
business. The committee will meet to exchange ideas on how to tackle some of
the world’s most pressing environmental issues.
DiCaprio will be joined on the
committee by the CEOs of the Championship Partners and Shareholders, as well as
Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E Holdings. The primary goal of Formula E – the
FIA global electric racing championship – is to promote electric vehicles with
the purpose of changing the perception of electric cars and to promote new
technologies for cleaner mobility.
Ahead of his Foundation’s
successful fundraising Gala in St. Tropez, France – sponsored by Julius Baer –DiCaprio
spoke with Alejandro Agag about his
support for Formula E and his environmental activism. The interview has been released
to the media by FIA FormulaE.
Leonardo, you’ve been an active environmentalist throughout your
I was awakened to the severity
of these issues in late 1990s when I met with then-Vice President Al Gore at
the White House. He and I spoke for an hour about climate change and how it
was, and is, the biggest challenge facing our society for the next millennium. Al
Gore inspired me. I decided then and there, that I wanted to be part of
protecting our planet by investing my time, energy, and voice to raise
awareness of climate change and the many ways humanity is impacting our
environment. In a nutshell – I believe this is our moral duty.
Since the 1990s, I have been
working on the ground and on the world stage to bring attention to these
issues. As I said at the UN Climate Summit last year, I’m deeply convinced that
none of these issues are rhetoric and none of it is hysteria – it is fact.
You created your Foundation – the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation – a year
after Titanic came out, and since that time you’ve supported 70 projects in
over 40 countries and in every ocean, and just recently you donated $15 million
to a wide variety of environmental initiatives. What’s next?
My Foundation focuses on
raising awareness and funds to fight some of the most pressing environmental
challenges facing the planet. Our work reaches every corner of the globe – from
the Arctic Sea to Africa and the Amazon. We also have active preservation
efforts underway in every ocean. Our model goes beyond simply writing cheques
and hoping to solve these problems. We actively support real projects, led by
environmentalists and community leaders on the ground that do an incredible
job, often under very difficult circumstances. We look forward to quickly scale
up this work and support more and more projects into the future.
Everyone needs to take action.
I believe all of us, regardless of our socioeconomic position or regional
differences, can and must do something to preserve our environment – whether
it’s big or small.
Last year, you urged world leaders at the UN Climate Summit to address
“the greatest challenge of our existence on this planet.” What tools are you
using to continue to get this message across?
We must keep the momentum
going, and I am using every platform at my disposal to urge action on these
critical issues. Social media has been a powerful tool for promoting
eco-friendly causes and keeping your base activated – not just on occasions
dedicated to the environment, such as Earth Day. It’s every hour of day that
our planet is being destroyed.
Film is another tool. In 2014,
I narrated a documentary “Carbon” – which gave viewers tremendous insight into
the devastating impacts of climate change. Recently, I’ve been working
alongside Netflix to produce important environmental stories. For example,
“Virunga” is a documentary that shows the need for the protection of mountain
gorillas in Africa’s oldest national park, while exposing the harsh realities
of life in the Congo.
I also take to the streets for
old-fashioned activism. This past year I marched during New York City’s
People’s Climate March, which coincided with the UN General Assembly to draw
attention to the numbers of people standing in solidarity with our environment
and to pressure government leaders to finally commit to a strong global treaty
to address climate change.
Whatever tools I use, this is
not about just telling people to change their light bulbs or to buy a hybrid
car. My goal is to communicate the fact that our planet is at a tipping point,
and the window for change is rapidly closing.
What role can technology play to help us address our environmental
Our planet offers limitless
renewable energy sources. Technology has
been the missing link for making this energy viable and competitive with fossil
fuels, but today we are finally ready to make the transition to 100 per cent
clean, renewable energy.
Technology is a catalyst for
disruptive innovation in every facet of life, especially in the areas of smart
and sustainable cities. For example, I’m excited by one of the most recent
announcements of disruption to the future of energy by Tesla’s “Powerwall”
battery, which provides power storage to individual homes.
The pace of change is
unbelievable. As Nelson Mandela said, it always seems impossible until it’s
done. Ten years ago I could never have imagined charging my car without even
plugging it in. Or shopping while my car is quietly topped up remotely by the
space it’s parked on.
Projects like Formula E act
like technological laboratories to accelerate innovation. For example, the
battery duration of EVs will be increased thanks to the Championship. The
trickling down of technological developments to consumer level and mass
adoption will make a huge difference.
We all have a role to play in sustainability: governments for policy,
businesses for innovation and investment and citizens for everyday local
action. What’s the big thing that’s going to make the change/change the dial?
Change comes with
participation from every level. When envisioning the cities of the future,
governments, for example, have a large role to play in sustainable development.
However, in the medium term it will be difficult to sustain city centres to
allow for combustion cars.
Governments will be the key to
transforming our city centres into “clean only vehicle” areas. To begin, it
will probably just need to be inner city centres, but gradually the entire city
should be open only to sustainable vehicles. Car sharing will be also be an
important part of this revolution and technology, together with regulation,
will be an essential part of this change.
What impact do you think the Formula E Sustainability Committee will
Climate change is both a moral
and business imperative. The committee, by uniting the top 10 global mobility
and innovation players on the subject of sustainability sends a clear sign that
we are on the frontlines of helping to solve the climate crisis. Formula E
provides these players with a strong collective global voice.
Sustainable business is the
way of the future. I applaud companies like Formula E, for launching a global
electric car championship, and Apple, who operates on 100 per cent renewables
in the US, and Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy that is ditching coal
in favour of renewable energy sources.
Why have you decided to support Formula E?
I first heard about Formula E
in New York over three years ago when it was just an idea. Since then, I have
supported the championship and I’ve been amazed by how far it’s come in these
first few years. Some were critics and believed Formula E would fail, and I
think you and your team have done an incredible job proving those critics wrong
and making your vision a reality. Formula E really can be a powerful tool to
change people’s perception of electric cars.
I also was drawn to the fact
that that Formula E only races in city centres. I’m concerned about cities.
They represent an environmental time bomb. In 20 years, 80 per cent of the
world’s population will live in cities and this means a constant and growing
demand on already dwindling natural resources – more than the planet can
Cities of the future need to
be smart and sustainable. Technology will be key for this. One of the most
important ways to reduce pollution in cities is through investing in smart
transportation solutions. This is where electric cars come into play, because
the more electric cars on the road, means improved air quality to benefit both
people and the planet.
I dream of these cities, where
people and transportation are interconnected and wisely use sustainable,
available natural resources such as solar energy. That is a future worth
fighting for. Projects like Formula E will help make this come true.
You’re an electric car driver. What’s so different about EVs?
The first the general public
knew about my green credentials was my appearance at the Oscars at the wheel of
a Toyota Prius. I’m constantly photographed when I leave my home – so this is a
creative way that I could showcase my commitment to being an environmentalist.
I believe it is important to
endorse new technologies that are trying to make a difference. The future of
our planet depends on our ability to embrace solutions like fuel-efficient,
The best thing about electric
cars is the way they sound – the way it drives and the ease. They’re also fast,
easy to use and very cool. You just plug it in every night like you would your
mobile phone. I’d love to have a go in a
Formula E car. Maybe you’ll see me in a Formula E car soon!
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