Bloomberg Philanthropies, with National Geographic, released “Paris to Pittsburgh” on the National Geographic channel on Dec. 12. Directed by Emmy Award winner Sidney Beaumont and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Michael Bonfiglio, the film documents people experiencing the impacts of climate change and the actions that they take to limit the changes, such as renewable energy.
In a phone interview, Beaumont discussed his goal in creating the documentary and what he envisioned.
“We were trying to show that we as a country and a world is grappling with climate change,” Beaumont said. “Our future is at stake here and we are threatened by climate change. It becomes a cautionary tale, frightening on one level and hopeful on the other. We really want to show the great energetic, positive work that is being done in so many places.”
Recently, Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Prior to that, he stated a motive for his actions: “I was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris.” The agreement deals with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, starting in the year 2020.
“I personally was very disappointed and deeply upset, having been tracking some of the science and impacts that we had started seeing,” Beaumont said. “We were all wonderfully surprised that a lot of people took their frustration and anger at the announcement by President Trump and turned that into a movement.”
Beaumont has a string of past documentaries telling different stories, such as “From the Ashes,” which discusses the future of the coal industry and what it is leaving behind.
“Creating a documentary is really trying to tell those human stories that people can relate to,” Beaumont said. “It’s about telling stories that we think are going to resonate with people and characters that really bring a particular story and issue to light so that other people can be inspired by what they have accomplished, even in the face of adversity.”
The documentary covers climate change effects all over the country, not only in Florida or California or places that it may seem most prevalent. In fact, climate change affects people everywhere, not just those on the coast.
“One of the most surprising things we learned, after trying to understand the science of it, is that climate change is something that’s not just affecting certain regions that we’re accustomed to thinking about,” Beaumont said. “Places like Iowa are also experiencing tremendous climate change in the form of flooding. We were encouraged by the fact that people in the heartlands get the opportunities around clean, wind energy.”
Most prevalently, the movie attempts to recognize and document the young adults of America leading rallies and taking action against the harmful effects of climate change. Beaumont recognizes one of those key people in the film, Chris Castro, the sustainability director for the city of Orlando, who took the job when he was 28 years old.
“I see Chris as a real hero in a way because he has the passion, the knowledge, and the vision to think about what we need to be doing in the future,” Beaumont said. “There are young people that really feel like it’s time for their voices to be heard and for them to really control their own destiny. They’re going to be the inheritors of the problems we’ve created and I feel like we really wanted to highlight these inspiring young people, who are not only leaders of the future but leaders of the present.”