Climate change "defining crisis of our time": Leonardo DiCaprio

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Leonardo DiCaprio. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas.

Climate change is the defining crisis of our time and it's time for bold and unprecedented action, actor Leonardo DiCaprio said on Friday.

The UN Messenger for Peace delivered a speech during a high-level signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on climate change at the UN in New York.

A dedicated environmentalist, the UN Messenger for Peace is the world body's "voice for climate advocacy."

Jocelyne Sambira has the details.

Which side of history will you be on?

Academy award winner Leonardo DiCaprio asked world leaders at the formal signing ceremony, while urging them to "lead, inspire and empower".

The UN climate champion recalled the late US President Lincoln's bold action 150 years ago when he urged Congress to abolish slavery.

DiCaprio warned the leaders that the world was watching them and that they would either be lauded by future generations or vilified.

"Now think about the shame that each of us will carry when our children and grandchildren look back and realize that we had the means of stopping this devastation… but simply lacked the political will to do so. Yes, we have achieved the Paris Agreement. More countries have come together to sign this agreement today, than for any other cause in the history of humankind – - and that is a reason for hope — but unfortunately the evidence shows us that it will not be enough."

The ground-breaking climate accord presents a universal vision on how to reduce emissions, enhance resilience to climate change and mobilize financing for climate action.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’11″

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