Climate

The Important Message Behind All The Green Ribbons At The Emmys

CREDIT: Eric Jamison/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images

Jeffrey Tambor at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

As temperatures reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday at red carpet of the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles — making it the hottest Emmys ever — countless attendees were seen wearing a small green ribbon pinned over their award-show finery. Actor Jeffrey Tambor, who won the award for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy, donned the ribbon as he gave his acceptance speech, which he dedicated to the transgender community (he won the award for playing Maura Pfefferman in Amazon’s Transparent).

But while Tambor’s speech honored the transgender community — and highlighted the civil rights abuses they often face — the green ribbons sought to draw attention to another cause: climate change.

Several members of the Transparent cast joined attendees like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Louis CK, Don Cheadle, and Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin in wearing the ribbons, which were part of a campaign created by NRDC to call for strong action on climate change.

“Climate change is the most critical humanitarian crisis of our time,” NRDC wrote on Tumblr of the campaign. “In December, hundreds of world leaders will gather in Paris with an urgent mission: working together to finalize a new global agreement for combating climate change.”

The ribbons sported the tag “#DemandClimateAction,” which corresponds to an NRDC petition by the same name that will be delivered to world leaders during December’s Paris climate talks.

None of the attendees that wore the ribbons mentioned climate action in their acceptance speeches, but some scholars have argued that by merely attaching their name to the issue, celebrities can help raise awareness in the public consciousness. Declan Fahy, an associate professor at American University’s School of Communication, pointed out in a piece for Yale Climate Connections that celebrities can “put a recognizable, individual face on a complex, systemic phenomenon like climate change and therefore make the issue connect with audiences, engaging them on the issue, and potentially mobilizing them to take action.”

And celebrities are no strangers to embracing climate activism — Cheadle, who wore a green ribbon last night, is a UN Environmental Program Global Ambassador. Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DiCaprio, Pharrell Williams, and Matt Damon are all vocal climate activists that work with environmental organizations fighting for everthing from renewable energy to clean water. And last September, many celebrities joined the People’s Climate March in New York City.

As the U.N. climate summit in Paris inches closer, expect the line between celebrity and climate activist to blur even further. At the beginning of 2015, the United Nations joined forces with notable figures like Bill Gates and Malala Yousafzai to help convince world leaders to take strong action on climate change in Paris. In July, the popular boy band One Direction released a video, in conjunction with the U.N. campaign, asking fans to pressure leaders to act on climate. And today, actor and activist Alec Baldwin joined Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, to present awards to 19 countries recognized for their leadership on climate.