Update: The World is Watching event in Paris has been suspended because of the terror attacks. Organizers posted this message: Out of solidarity with the French people and the city of Paris, we have decided to suspend our broadcast. Our thoughts are with all who have been affected and the entire nation.
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Calum Worthy is no stranger to the limelight, but the Victoria-born actor, writer and singer says nothing compares to sharing the world stage with Al Gore at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
“For the first time in a long time, I’m actually quite nervous because there’s so much riding on this,” said Worthy, of Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally fame.
Worthy, 24, will appear opposite the former U.S. vice-president as he hosts The World Is Watching, a live 24-hour telethon produced by Live Earth and the Climate Reality Project, Gore’s non-profit organization, to raise awareness of climate change.
Participants during today’s event, starting at 9 a.m. Pacific time, include musicians Elton John, Jon Bon Jovi and Neil Young, actors Ryan Reynolds and Jared Leto, heads of state, business leaders and climate experts. In addition to Paris, segments are scheduled for Calgary, Miami, Rio de Janeiro, New Delhi, Cape Town, Beijing, Manila and Sydney.
“This will have a huge impact on the way people view the upcoming summit,” said Worthy, referring to a gathering of world leaders to discuss climate change.
Worthy will intermittently review social media response with Gore and guests that include French President François Hollande.
Worthy said it’s a dream come true collaborating on the call for climate action with Gore, whose activism he became aware of as a Claremont Secondary School student.
He credits his Grade 9 global studies teacher, Mark Neufeld, for inspiring him to become a climate advocate, recalling Neufeld’s talk on climate change and “what it means for your generation.”
“Then I saw [Gore’s documentary] An Inconvenient Truth and ever since I’ve been passionate about trying to solve this problem. I really believe it’s the greatest threat to mankind right now.”
Worthy, who has 899,000 Twitter followers, said it was when his star began rising at Disney that he became inspired to become involved with Gore’s non-profit group. “I realized there was a whole generation that listens to what I say, so I was really careful picking what organization to get behind,” he said. “I wanted to help make a difference.”
It was after his appearance at this year’s Kids Choice Awards that he caught Gore’s attention by wearing an Earth Hour and Climate Change Project shirt on the red carpet. After Gore tweeted his thanks to Worthy for showing it off for cameras, they met in Iowa to discuss ways they could work together. Worthy then took Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps training.
Recalling Worthy as a bright student who asked big questions, Neufeld said it didn’t surprise him that Gore “immediately realized” what a great ambassador for young people Worthy could be.
“He has done remarkable things, when he could have easily just been a star,” Neufeld said.
Worthy encourages local viewers to tweet during the live online broadcast using the hashtag #whyimwatching.
> Online: climaterealityproject.org