SCIENCE

19 VIPs Who Get Climate Change Better Than Congress

"Now will you take the wool out of your ears, the blinkers off your eyes, and act?"

As the United Nations' 21st Conference of the Parties is underway in Paris until Dec. 11, we've heard a number of world leaders -- from President Barack Obama to Pope Francis -- speak out about curbing climate change. 

To help highlight the climate talks, photographers Mathias Braschler and Monika Fischer, who are based in Zurich and New York, took dramatic portraits and collected quotes from corporate leaders, politicians and celebrities around the world. The photo series is titled "Act Now."

From Virgin Group founder Richard Branson to supermodel Gisele Bündchen, scroll down to see 19 familiar faces and their personal -- and poignant -- perspectives about climate change.

  • “Climate change is real. In order to alter this reality, we need all hands on deck. Cleaner, more sustainable energy is
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “Climate change is real. In order to alter this reality, we need all hands on deck. Cleaner, more sustainable energy is possible and can transform our lives, our economies and our planet. We must make living in harmony with the Earth a priority. This is our home ... the only one we have!” -- Gisele Bündchen, model and United Nations Environment Program goodwill ambassador
  • “Taking bold climate action now has the potential to unleash the full power of business and lift millions of people out
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “Taking bold climate action now has the potential to unleash the full power of business and lift millions of people out of poverty at the same time. We’re the first generation to recognize this and the last generation that will have this opportunity.” -- Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder
  • “Fighting climate change isn’t just an obligation we owe to future generations. It’s also an opportunity to
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “Fighting climate change isn’t just an obligation we owe to future generations. It’s also an opportunity to improve public health -- and drive economic growth -- in the here and now. After all, the same steps that reduce carbon pollution also clean the air we breathe, which saves lives and reduces disease. Cities with clean air also gain an economic advantage, because where people want to live and work, businesses want to invest. By speeding the transition to cleaner energy, we can improve the lives of billions of people, while also reducing the risks we face from a changing climate.” -- Michael R. Bloomberg, U.N. secretary-general’s special envoy for cities and climate change and former three-term mayor of New York City
  • “We are living in revolutionary times. The good news is we have everything we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground.
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “We are living in revolutionary times. The good news is we have everything we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground. All we need is you to join the rest of the world to bring about a cleaner, more stable and peaceful future." -- Mark Ruffalo, actor
  • “I pray that our leaders stop pointing fingers and playing the blame game and seek a real solution for the good of the
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “I pray that our leaders stop pointing fingers and playing the blame game and seek a real solution for the good of the planet and all who inhabit it. It is the least represented among us who will be the most affected first. We have a moral responsibility to protect them.” -- Don Cheadle, actor and UNEP goodwill ambassador
  • “For me, the two biggest issues are climate change and animal welfare/animal agriculture. And oddly enough, animal agri
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “For me, the two biggest issues are climate change and animal welfare/animal agriculture. And oddly enough, animal agriculture is such a contributor to climate change. According to the United Nations, 25 percent of climate change comes from animal agriculture, so every car, bus, boat, truck, airplane combined has less CO2 and methane emissions than animal agriculture. So to me, one of the easiest way of addressing climate change and potentially remedying climate change is to stop subsidizing animal agriculture.” -- Moby, musician
  • “Climate change is critical to me because I’m a parent; I feel a sense of responsibility to the future. I’m
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “Climate change is critical to me because I’m a parent; I feel a sense of responsibility to the future. I’m not going to be around to see its worst effects, which are going to be hitting in the 2030s, 40s, 50s, but my kids will. Everybody is always talking about droughts and sea level rise, but when human civilization -- with more crowding and greater resource depletion -- is under that much stress, it translates into wars and huge displaced populations. The Syrian refugee crisis is just a first taste of what it’s going to be like. I don’t want my kids growing up in that kind of world.” -- James Cameron, film director
  • “To every money-obsessed, climate change nay-saying politician: Climate change directly affects a country’s GDP.
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “To every money-obsessed, climate change nay-saying politician: Climate change directly affects a country’s GDP. Grievously. Now will you take the wool out of your ears, the blinkers off your eyes, and act?” -- Rahul Bose, Bollywood actor, screenwriter and film producer
  • “I think the leaders of this world will have to realize that playing politics [and] making money will mean nothing if t
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “I think the leaders of this world will have to realize that playing politics [and] making money will mean nothing if they don’t take decisions and invest in drastic change on how we use energy, how we transform from a fuel-based to a sustainable economy. Talk is cheap, action is expensive and we are coming to a dead end. The more time we take to make drastic changes, the greater damage we impose on the population of the world.” -- Angélique Kidjo, musician and UNICEF goodwill ambassador
  • “The changing climate is a threat to human rights. The fossil fuel-based development model has not benefited all people
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “The changing climate is a threat to human rights. The fossil fuel-based development model has not benefited all people, and those who have benefited least are now suffering great harm in the face of climate change. But tackling the issue of climate change presents us with an inflection point in human history -- a climate justice revolution that separates development from fossil fuels, supports people in the most vulnerable situations to adapt, allows all people to take part and, most importantly, realize their full potential.” -- Mary Robinson, U.N. special envoy for climate change and former president of Ireland
  • “Collaboration, partnership, the ultimate intertwining of skills, shared passions and knowledge, is what concocts the m
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “Collaboration, partnership, the ultimate intertwining of skills, shared passions and knowledge, is what concocts the most shatterproof forms of change-making. Let’s unite our impassioned voices to combat climate change. The time is now.” -- Ian Somerhalder, actor and UNEP goodwill ambassador
  • “The migrants are not a temporary crisis. The crisis is mounting. There are many war refugees and three times as many c
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “The migrants are not a temporary crisis. The crisis is mounting. There are many war refugees and three times as many climate refugees. All of them are people who can no longer live where they were born. I hope we face reality in time to save ourselves. We will all be migrants soon.” -- Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer
  • “Let’s stop presenting climate change as a big and expensive problem threatening future generations. We need solu
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “Let’s stop presenting climate change as a big and expensive problem threatening future generations. We need solutions to inspire, not problems. So let’s rather speak of a great opportunity for the present generation to create jobs and make profit in the clean technology industry. ” -- Bertrand Piccard, initiator and pilot of Solar Impulse and UNEP goodwill ambassador
  • "The degradation of our environment is undeniably a direct result of our lack of regard, lack of accountability and lack of r
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    "The degradation of our environment is undeniably a direct result of our lack of regard, lack of accountability and lack of responsibility. If we don’t start acknowledging our correct position as nothing more than a part of the planet -- as opposed to this perception that we’re superior -- then we won’t have it much longer. We’re facing a very turbulent, war-torn, drought-ridden existence for future generations unless we act now." -- Nikki Reed, actress
  • “Climate change and the response to it is at the heart of mankind’s relationships with each other and, indeed, wi
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “Climate change and the response to it is at the heart of mankind’s relationships with each other and, indeed, with nature. Whether you are concerned by food security, water scarcity, inequality, natural disasters or our whole energy system, climate change connects them all, and our response to it will be the issue that defines human progress in the 21st century.” -- Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever
  • “Climate Change matters because it is the most important topic that is affecting the quality of life of every single hu
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “Climate Change matters because it is the most important topic that is affecting the quality of life of every single human being alive today and every single human being alive tomorrow and beyond. There is no other unifying topic in the world that has as deep an impact on the quality of life on this planet as climate change.” -- Christiana Figueres, U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary
  • “I fear our descendants will look back on us at this moment in time, on people who lived in the 20th and 21st century,
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “I fear our descendants will look back on us at this moment in time, on people who lived in the 20th and 21st century, and they’ll ask, 'What the fuck were you thinking?' We all have to help. Because for too long, we have been taking and the Earth has been giving. But that free-for-all, that all-you-can-eat buffet, it’s over. The salad bar is closed.” -- Darren Aronofsky, film director, screenwriter and film producer
  • “We need to change the idea of what success means. We need to inform human beings that a consumer-driven society gives
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “We need to change the idea of what success means. We need to inform human beings that a consumer-driven society gives us all very false ideas of what success means.” -- Dia Mirza, Bollywood actress and producer
  • “We are at a pivotal moment in our shared history. The global goals of a healthy planet, social equality and economic o
    Braschler/Fischer / AUGUST
    “We are at a pivotal moment in our shared history. The global goals of a healthy planet, social equality and economic opportunity for all are within reach. But we cannot prevaricate. Our vision of a sustainable future will only materialize through action taken today.” --Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director 

Quotes were lightly edited for style.

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