195 countries, 20,000 negotiators, 11 days. One agreement.
Since the Industrial Revolution, the average temperature on Earth has risen by one degree Celsius. If it exceeds two degrees, most ecosystems will collapse. It’s a fate the UN has been trying to stop since 1995, when it launched an initiative: to get nations to sign a global climate accord, and implement sweeping environmental reforms in their own countries, to prevent temperature increases worldwide.
In 2015, 20,000 negotiators, representing 195 nations, descended upon Paris for a tension-filled, high-stakes 11 days, in the name of reaching an accord.
Guardians of the Earth tells the story of how it was done.
Q&A with Director: Filip Antoni Malinowski
What attracted you to the story of Guardians of the Earth?
The battle against climate change is the biggest challenge we are facing as humanity. As a film director, I couldn't have imagined a bigger drama for a film than a world summit where entire nations have to fight and debate their future survival. As a global society, we are facing the destruction of our habitat and science tells us very clearly that we are heading towards even the death of our species if we continue business as usual. So, of course, I was intrigued - what is the way in which our global culture is attempting to solve this massive problem and threat to our survival? What are the powers that make change and transition in the fight against global warming so difficult? The answers are to be found exactly at this conference, one that is seen, timewise, as the last chance we had to enforce global action against climate change.
Why was it important to tell this story?
The Paris Agreement is the historically absolutely unique case, where nearly all countries of the world agreed on a single contract to save the planet and attempt to protect the most threatened and vulnerable people of the world. Despite being this outstanding diplomatic achievement where the world united as one to fight this existential threat, the agreement is of highest political dispute in countries like the U.S., where the billionaire Koch brothers have deliberately supported a presidential candidate, the current president of the U.S., Donald Trump, to exit from this agreement - the only country in the world.
Many people in the U.S. are being misled and misinformed by the fossil fuel lobby about climate change. This story is, therefore, of highest urgency to be told to the public in the U.S.
What should we know about your filmmaking process?
Filming inside a conference of secretive and closed informal talks about the future of humanity, was indeed a very challenging procedure. We are following high officials including Secretary of State John Kerry or Al Gore through the conference, showing the many aspects of such a summit, where the world came together under one single goal. Still, through leaked undercover footage, we shine light on those who are successfully trying to sabotage the fight against global warming. Our main figure in the film is a devoted man from Bangladesh who keeps fighting for the rights of his people and the survival of the poor, as he’s done for the last 21 years.
Did you make any unexpected discoveries while shooting?
We had to find out that corporations like Exxon Mobile have funded science and campaigns to make people and politicians believe that climate change is not happening and that it’s not an issue. These are the enemies of all of us, and they have slowed down action for two decades that we are missing now to change our economic models. I can just hope these corporations will be sued successfully in the years to come and will end up being taken apart for their deliberate greed, that is causing the death of millions of people in the global south already.
What do you hope your documentary will achieve?
I'm hoping the film can push individuals to spread the discussion about climate change and that it can also help spread the urgent message that action is necessary and that action is happening. We are already embarking into a new paradigm and everyone should find a way to contribute and find a place in this new model free of fossil fuels.
UN | FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE:
This interactive web page explains the history and methodology of UN action against climate change. A full primer on the goals and scope of the Paris Agreement is a major feature.
CAIT | INTERACTIVE CLIMATE DATA EXPLORER:
Climate Watch is an online platform designed to empower policymakers, researchers, media and other stakeholders with climate data, visualizations and resources for insights on climate change.
C-ROADS | INTERACTIVE CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY SIMULATOR:
C-ROADS is a computer simulator that helps map the long-term impacts of actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and test strategies for tackling climate change.