Spanish actor and environmental activist Javier Bardem said Monday “we are all villains” for playing “deaf and blind” and not caring about the world’s oceans, which are under more pressure than at any time in history.
The Oscar winner came to the United Nations to press delegates who are drafting an international treaty to protect oceans to support a strong document “that can actually create safe havens for marine life to recover.”
“Our oceans are on the verge of collapse, and we have all played a huge role in this,” Bardem said. “Now we must all play our part, especially you in this room.”
He was speaking on a lunchtime panel in the conference room where delegates from the world’s nations will meet over the next two weeks for the third of four treaty drafting sessions. But he started his remarks saying, “I see too many empty chairs here which worries me a lot,” because an effective treaty is crucial for future generations and the future of the planet.
Bardem said the biggest mistake delegates can make “is not to care” and take seriously the threat of a possible catastrophe.
He cited the ills that have made the oceans unhealthy: plastic pollution, over-fishing, mining, drilling, ocean acidification “and of course, climate breakdown.”
The drafting committee is expected to produce a draft treaty in 2020, with the aim of having it adopted as a legally binding document under The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It will govern the conservation and use of plants and animals in the 64% of the world’s ocean waters that do not come under national jurisdictions.
Bardem was asked what message he would have for President Donald Trump, who announced two years ago that the U.S. was withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.
“You cannot withdraw from the Paris climate convention by any means,” the actor said he would tell Trump. “This is serious. This is happening. This is now. You cannot live in denial. There is nothing to deny. It is a fact.”
He said Trump and others who deny climate change should “pay attention to how nature is speaking to us constantly,” including heat waves in Europe this summer and plastic on beaches everywhere.
“There is not one person in the world who will not be benefited by a climate convention and an ocean treaty,” Bardem said.
He spoke about walking around Madrid, where it’s very hot, and going to the seaside, which is polluted, and said he is “truly, deeply, honestly worried” about the future of his two children, aged 8 and 6. Bardem is married to actress Penélope Cruz.
When asked who the villain is, he said he’s just played three villains on screen, “but I guess we are all villains because we have our part — we have played deaf and blind many times and we don’t care.”
Now, Bardem said, the experts are saying it’s time to act before it’s too late, so “from now on anyone who speaks blithely or lightly about the matter is a villain, because it’s obvious that it is a serious matter.”