Why Alec Baldwin wants you to listen to Donald Trump

Alec Baldwin presents the Equator Prize 2015 Award Ceremony this week in Paris.

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Le Bourget, France (CNN)Other than being an old-ish white guy who likes a nice suit, Alec Baldwin doesn't have much in common with billionaire blowhard Donald Trump.

But when I met Baldwin here at the U.N. COP21 climate change conference (more on why he's here in just a minute, and, no, it doesn't entirely make sense), the bassoon-voiced actor told me he thinks we all should be listening more to Trump for one reason: His views are so extreme they might finally convince world leaders to sign a climate change accord.
"If we had Donald Trump come here to Paris and make a speech and give his views on climate change, we'd have an agreement tomorrow," Baldwin told me.
    "All you need is for these extremists in business (like Trump) to talk about what they need. You say, 'How do you get Americans to care?' I think we are on the road to caring because we've got some pretty extremist views coming back home. And Americans are wise to that. The climate denial thing in America is (at a low), and most Americans know we need some climate change policy."
    Personally, I'd like to keep Trump as far as possible from Paris. Negotiators from 195 countries are hoping to reach an agreement by Friday on how to limit global warming, and I'm pretty sure Trump could mess all of that up by doing a dramatic reading of his climate tweets.
    The Associated Press recently asked scientists to grade 12 top U.S. presidential contenders on the accuracy of their statements about climate science. Trump came in 10th, scoring only 15 of 100 possible points for accuracy. Only Ben Carson and Ted Cruz fared worse. (The three Democrats had the best scores by the way, ranging from 87 to 94).
    I guess there's a chance, as Baldwin says, that negotiators here would listen to Trump's anti-science rhetoric and then have an oh-my-God-we-have-to-sign-a-deal-now-before-another-administration-takes-office moment.
    It's a moot point, of course. He's not coming. And that's a good thing, because these negotiations remain sensitive.
    There are several remaining sticking points in the negotiations. Among them:
    -- Temperature goal: Should warming be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which may help save some low-lying countries from being drowned by rising seas? Or should the temperature target remain 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as has been agreed upon previously by pretty much all of the world's countries? The latest draft includes both.
    -- Money for adaptation: Developing countries want to see more cash to help deal with the floods and droughts that are sure to be the consequence of climate change. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently pledged to double annual American assistance, from more than $400 million to more than $800 million per year. Developing nations are hoping for $100 billion per year from worldwide, which the latest draft includes.
    -- Blame game:
    In the long term, the United States has done more than any other country to cause climate change. Should it, and other industrialized nations, have to take most of the action to reduce pollution? What about China and India, which have emerged as major polluters since climate negotiations started in the 1990s?
    -- Reparations:
    Some countries want to see a form of reparations -- called "loss and damage" in U.N.-speak -- for the effects of climate change that will be impossible to prevent or adapt to.
    -- Transparency: How will the world know if a country's keeping its commitments to cut pollution? There are remaining disputes about how exactly a review and transparency program would function.
    But, anyway. Enough policy. Back to Alec Baldwin.
    The actor is in Paris to speak on behalf of the Equator Prize, which is awarded by the U.N. Development Program to people who are defending tropical forests around the world. The event was held in conjunction with the COP21 climate summit, since deforestation and climate change are linked.
    Deforestation contributes perhaps 10% to 20% of global climate change emissions per year, so people who are protecting carbon-dense forests are also helping to keep temperatures cooler for the rest of us. Some are risking their lives to do so.
    I met Diana Rios, a 21-year-old from Peru, whose father was assassinated by illegal loggers for his involvement in environmental issues, according to nonprofit groups who work in the area.
    She's continuing his struggle, even though she receives threats of her own.
    And she's here in Paris helping to explain to world leaders what's at stake in the climate crisis and just how far ordinary people around the world are going to protect the Earth.
    Baldwin told me he wasn't aware of these stakes until he came to Paris and met Rios, too, and others like her. But he wants to use his voice and celebrity to highlight the brave work of indigenous communities.
    "Here I am, staying in a fancy hotel, going out to dinner with my friends, hanging out, and we're doing our best to disseminate some information, but I'm on one end of the spectrum, and this is all new to me," he told me.
    "I've done a lot of environmental work back home related to climate change. I've tried to be as big of a rock in (their) shoe as I can to the oil industry and the nuclear industry. I'm heavy-heavy coming down on extractive industries in the United States and abroad. But the plight of indigenous people -- which is why we're here -- I hadn't thought about this until now. I had no idea who Diana Rios was or who her father was -- and the guy was killed by hit men for illegal logging obligations."
    Baldwin said he was "overwhelmed" by her story.
    "She's going to risk her life for this," he said.
    I asked him if there's anything he would risk his life for.
    He gave a conditional answer.
    But what he said doesn't matter as much as the fact that it wasn't climate change.
    How climate change is changing lives
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      How climate change is changing lives


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