Fact Check: Leonardo DiCaprio Falsely Claims U.S. ‘Per Capita the Largest Polluters in the World’

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CLAIM: “By population, we are per capita the largest polluters in the world, and even scientists have been saying this for decades now,” actor and carbon dioxide-pumping yacht enthusiast Leonardo DiCaprio claimed in a recent interview with Deadline.

VERDICT: FALSE. This statement is false, according to data from Worldometer, which lists Qatar as the number one emitter of CO2 in the world, per capita.

In fact, the United States doesn’t even make the top 15 largest emitters of CO2, on a per capita bases, in the world.

In his interview with Deadline, DiCaprio also claimed that planet Earth has “literally” nine years left on its “ticking clock,” and compared climate change to a Netflix satire film he recently starred in, Don’t Look Up, in which — spoiler alert — everybody dies an untimely death at the end.

“Much like this movie, there is a ticking clock,” the Titanic star said. “I think there’s a worldwide sense of anxiety about the fact that the powers that be, the private sector, governments, are not making the transition fast enough. We literally have a nine-year window.”

Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy in “Don’t Look Up.” (Netflix)

DiCaprio also suggested that voting for someone “sane” means voting for politicians like President Joe Biden.

“We’re all crossing our fingers that Biden can make one of the more substantial plans to at least implement renewables,” he said. “So, vote. Vote for people that are sane.”

The Catch Me If You Can star also begged that readers “vote for people that care about this issue and take science seriously.”

“And we should not have any elected leaders, on a state level, on a city level, or a national level that don’t listen to science, especially in this country,” DiCaprio said. “We’re really at that point of having to take major action as if it was World War II.”

DiCaprio has for years faced a barrage of criticism, call outs, and has been branded a climate “hypocrite” over decisions like the one he made in 2016, when he flew 8,000 miles across Europe and the U.S. on a gas-guzzling private jet to accept an eco award.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to show that Qatar as the number one emitter of CO2 in the world, per capita, not China. China is the largest emitter of CO2 in raw tons. 

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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