Obama praises younger generation for climate change efforts in ‘Dear Earth’ speech

The new YouTube Originals film highlights the many "sustainability challenges" Earth is undergoing, but it offers solutions.

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Former President Barack Obama gave a keynote address in a YouTube Originals film that premiered this weekend, and in it, he lauds the work of younger Americans in combating the crisis of climate change. 

In Dear Earth, a 100-minute film produced by Done + Dusted, Strong Brew and Silverback Films, the many “sustainability challenges” the planet is undergoing due to climate change get highlighted, but it also inspires hope by offering solutions. 

Former President Barack Obama speaks Saturday during an early vote rally for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

“What I’m so impressed by is the fact that you are not waiting for the people who got us into this mess to dig us out,” the still-popular former president says, referring to his encounters with the young people he works with through The Obama Foundation.

“You’re doing it yourselves,” he notes, “even if you are not old enough to vote.”

Obama adds that while previous generations may not have taken the issue seriously or addressed it well, he has more confidence in the younger generation. 

“When you look at the history of so many social movements — whether it’s the civil rights movement or decolonization around the world or anti-war movements — they’re often started and sustained by young people,” Obama explains, speaking on the new generation’s comprehension of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “the fierce urgency of now.”

“You don’t see the way things are and assume that’s the way they’ll always be,” he continues. “You can imagine something different, and you’re willing to put in the work to make it happen. That’s what makes me hopeful about the fight against climate change.”

While Obama is the keynote speaker throughout Dear Earth, PEOPLE reports that the film also features appearances from Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, as well as Jaden Smith, Lil Dicky, Billie Eilish, BLACKPINK, Pope Francis and SpongeBob SquarePants, a mix of performances, comedic shorts and more. 

According to PEOPLE, Obama is set to be a speaker at the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference next month in Glasgow, Scotland, an event “where he will meet with young activists engaged in the climate fight and deliver remarks putting the threat of climate change in [a] broader context.” 

There and beyond, the former POTUS is expected to push for “more robust action” to address the climate change crisis. 

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