Al Gore’s Stirring New Climate Change Ad Calls on World Leaders to Be Accountable

Edward Norton, Richard Branson add star power

Al Gore's Climate Reality Project tries lighting a fire under world leaders in this two-minute film directed by Hungry Man's Richard Bullock.

Shot in 13 countries, the video features environmental activists and average folks of all sorts, as well as Gore, Edward Norton and Sir Richard Branson. Each person stands or sits center-frame, reciting lines from the script while looking directly into the camera.

"I decided to try and create moving stills so that each frame was as beautiful and impactful as possible," Bullock tells AdFreak. "I chose people and places which are experiencing climate change right now or involved in positive changes. This meant we visited deserts, coral reefs, high mountain glaciers and deforested areas."

Though he employs a familiar visual technique, it's effective at unifying the message and driving home the point that climate change affects everyone, regardless of age, race, geographic location or economic standing.

"Dear world leaders, we all know that the climate crisis is here. We can see it all around us," the speakers begin. "We would do something about it. In fact, some of us already are." They describe the steps they're taking, and challenge those in power to follow their lead.

"Actually, we have some demands. We demand that you cooperate with one another. We demand that you send a message to polluters. Stop using fossil fuels. Now is the time, the time for you to act."

The appeal strikes just the right tone, firm but respectful. Owing to their own efforts to improve the climate situation, the speakers can convincingly claim the moral authority to request action from their leaders. "The indigenous people we met had so many smart things to say about management of the planet," says Bullock. "I just wish there were more of them involved in decisions about industry and carbon emissions and not just the men in suits with flags on their cars."

The PSA appears ahead of COP21, the United Nations Climate Change conference in Paris next month, and urges viewers to add their voices to the cause by signing a petition on the Climate Reality site. It does well by trying to rally support among those already in step with the CRP's position.

Still, even if a billion people sign a petition, would it matter to world leaders beholden to special interests and intent on following energy policies for reasons of their own?

"Well, I would hope that at least as a leader you might understand that there is an inherent responsibility to your fellow man when accepting your role," says Bullock. "Hopefully the film helps to remind them of that before they hit the room to make the big calls in Paris."

When it comes to effecting meaningful change, despite the best intentions and skillful communications, it also begs wondering if the CRP is really getting any warmer in achieving its goals.

"Will our film make a difference? Maybe not," Bullock says. "But if it's part of a weight or landslide of requests from people that build pressure on world leaders, then I am happy to throw our symbolic straw on the camel's back."

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.