With seemingly no one in the White House steering the U.S. into an environmentally sustainable future, who's going to take the wheel?
Leonardo DiCaprio has an idea who.
Speaking at Yale University on Sept. 19, the actor and activist announced his foundation is giving a whopping $20 million in grants to over 100 eco-groups dedicated to fighting climate change, protecting indigenous rights, and wildlife conservation efforts, among other issues.
It's the largest portfolio of environmental grants ever given by the DiCaprio Foundation, according to the group, which chose to unveil the figure at John Kerry's Kerry Initiative climate change conference.
"These grantees are active on the ground, protecting our oceans, forests, and endangered species for future generations — and tackling the urgent, existential challenges of climate change," DiCaprio said.
The DiCaprio Foundation, which raises money in large part from high-profile fundraising events, didn't beat around the bush either: Washington's indifference toward crucial environmental issues is making matters worse.
While President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress weren't mentioned by name, their inaction were certainly part of the discussion.
“This round of grants comes at a critical time," explained Terry Tamminen, the foundation's CEO. "With a lack of political leadership and continued evidence that climate change is growing worse with record-breaking heatwaves and storms, we believe we need to do as much as we can now, before it is too late.”
DiCaprio has spoken out against Trump's dismissal of climate change before.
In June, shortly after the president announced plans for the U.S. to leave the Paris climate accord — a global agreement between nearly every nation to drastically slash carbon emissions — DiCaprio slammed the unpopular move, calling it a "careless decision."
“Our future on this planet is now more at risk than ever before," he wrote in a statement. "For Americans and those in the world community looking for strong leadership on climate issues, this action is deeply discouraging."
With help from groups like DiCaprio's, however, Americans are stepping up to the plate — with or without their president.
The U.S. might meet its carbon reduction goals outlined in the Paris agreement despite Trump's lack of support.
An initiative led by Michael Bloomberg, for example, has united dozens of mayors, governors, businesses, and universities in remaining committed to the Obama administration's Paris pledge to slash America's carbon output by 26% from its 2005 levels by the year 2025.
It could, in a sense, nullify any formal withdrawal from the accord.
“The bulk of the decisions which drive U.S. climate action in the aggregate are made by cities, states, businesses, and civil society,” Bloomberg wrote in a letter to Antonio Guterres. “Collectively, these actors remain committed to the Paris accord.”
There's ways for you to get involved and stay committed too.
Consider supporting one of the many environmental groups that will receive grants from the DiCaprio Foundation or nonprofits like the Sierra Club or NRDC to make real change when it comes to climate action.