Pharrell Williams is teaming up with Live Earth co-founders Al Gore and Kevin Wall for the 2015 version of the global festival, to be called Live Earth – Road to Paris. The event, which began eight years ago, was created to draw attention to climate change worldwide and to foster awareness of the environment. This year, Live Earth is timed to lead up to the UN’s conference on climate change in Paris. Appearing at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Gore and Wall announced the details of this year’s festival, including the appointment of Williams, who joined the men onstage, as creative director.
Gore was at the economic forum to lobby for limits to be placed on fossil-fuel emissions, which scientists say are responsible for global warming. The temperature of the Earth last year was the warmest ever recorded, and is expected to increase by 3.6 degrees Celsius before the century ends. Geologists say that such a rise in temperature would permanently damage the planet and create more severe weather, lead to the extinction of some species and acidify the ocean.
Live Earth 2015, with Williams as creative director, will be held on June 18 and will showcase over 100 performers, who have yet to be named, spread across all seven continents. Each concert will last from four to six hours, and will occur in places as far-flung as Antarctica, where scientists on a research base will play as a band; Beijing, China; Johannesburg, South Africa; New York; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Sydney, Australia, and ending with a concert to be held at the French national stadium in Paris, where the UN’s climate conference is scheduled for December.
Although Williams performed in 2007 for Live Earth Rio, the new creative director of this year’s festival would not comment on whether he also plans to perform at the concert. The singer of the hit song, Happy, made it clear that the festival was created to raise awareness of climate change and that the artists performing were not as important as the message they were sending through their appearances. Live Earth 2015 aims to amass the signatures of one billion people in an effort to urge the world leaders attending the Paris conference to work together to put a new deal in place which would reduce greenhouse gases globally.
Williams himself has a history of environmental activism and has given proceeds from his music to the Alliance for Climate Protection. Gore was a 2007 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to raise awareness of climate change, for which he has been a tireless advocate since his term in the office of vice president ended.
Live Earth 2007 held concerts in Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Sydney, Tokyo and Washington D.C., among others. The performers who participated included Beastie Boys, Foo Fighters, Genesis, Kanye West, Madonna, Metallica, the Police and Roger Waters. The event drew an audience of more than 19 million in the United States and set a record for an online audience with eight million viewers.
Gore predicts that this year’s festival, with Williams as creative director, will draw the biggest audience ever of its kind. He said that all told, with online coverage, radio and TV, he expects an audience of two billion.
Not everybody approved of the original Live Earth. Some criticized the festival for leaving its own global footprint in its efforts to raise awareness of climate change.
By Jennifer Pfalz
Photo by Monikia Flueckiger – License