On Monday, DiCaprio and Obama were joined by climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe from Texas Tech University. DiCaprio, who took on the role of interviewer for the evening, began by thanking Obama for his “extraordinary leadership” on environmental issues. “If you do not believe in climate change, you do not believe in facts,” the actor said, noting that anyone who doesn’t agree with the settled science “should not hold public office.” That comment, a clear dig at candidates like at Donald Trump who has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by China, was met with loud cheers from the crowd in attendance.
In turn, Obama told DiCaprio that he is “very proud” of his administration’s record on climate action, citing last year’s Paris agreement as an example of the progress being made. But he also admitted that even if every country held up their end of the bargain, it wouldn’t be enough. “Climate change is happening at a faster rate than what was predicted even 5 years ago,” the president said, adding that we’re in a “race against time.” While the idea of a carbon tax also got a big ovation from attendees, the president admitted the likelihood of any “immediate” action in that area is still a “ways away.”