Leonardo DiCaprio used his Oscar acceptance speech on Sunday to deliver a message about the perils of global warming. But the A-list actor, who flies private jets, rents out entire yachts, and maintains multiple multimillion dollar residences, has a carbon footprint that’s likely among the biggest in the world.
“Making ‘The Revenant’ was about man's relationship to the natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history,” DiCaprio said at the Academy Awards. “Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.”
But experts point out that a big part of reducing one’s carbon footprint is to stop buying so many expensive, energy-consuming toys.
“Carbon footprints go up with wealth, they have more stuff and consume more stuff,” says Dr. Gavin Schmidt, who works for Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. “America is extremely energy wasteful. The electricity to charge your phone it’s not pixie dust... it comes from power plants.”
DiCaprio himself has said as much. His environmental foundation, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, even produced a series of videos to teach people how to conserve energy. But the actor still takes private flights to his premieres and vacations, which in the last two years alone included Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, New York, and Brazil.
In January, he even flew by private jet to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to attack the “greed” of the energy industry. In one six-week stretch during 2014, he took six private flights between New York and Los Angeles, according to WikiLeaks. That same year, he rented the world's fifth largest yacht, Topaz, from Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, which boasts its oil reserves as the seventh-largest in the world, in order to watch the World Cup with his friends.
The Topaz reportedly burns through $6 million in fuel a year, which breaks down to $16,438 a day.
And while DiCaprio drives environmentally friendly cars, including a Fisker electric car and a Prius, and rides a bike around New York City, he owns multiple homes which use a lot of energy, including a $4 million apartment in New York, a Malibu beach house with a guest house, and a $5 million Palm Springs mansion.
Professor Michael Hoffmann, a climate change expert at Cornell University, says we all can do a better job at helping the environment, DiCaprio included.
“As individuals our individual contribution is small but as aggregate it’s important,” Hoffmann says. “If we drove a little less, turned the lights out at home, that would reduce our energy use. Many of us who own homes can install solar.The opportunities for individuals are wide open. Everyone can also raise their voices, all of us can do that for the sake of the future. Everyone can do a better job.”
An e-mail to DiCaprio's rep was not returned.