Jane Fonda decries inaction on climate, apologizes to the young: ‘Sorry that we’ve created this issue for you’

Liberal actress Jane Fonda appeared at multiple high-profile events this week to promote her climate activism.

The 86-year-old Fonda, who has been arrested while participating in past climate protests, tried to rev up famous faces at a Beverly Hills fundraiser against big oil in California, and later in the week, educate college students at USC Annenberg that the climate crisis is a “manifestation of racism, misogyny and patriarchy.”

She also apologized to young people, saying, “I’m sorry that we’ve created this issue for you.” 

Fonda’s first event was a star-studded fundraiser she hosted to raise money to keep California from overturning SB 1137, a bill Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., signed in 2022 that bars new oil and gas wells from being built 3,200 feet of homes, hospitals, nursing homes and schools. 

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Actress Jane Fonda spoke at several events for climate change awareness in souther California this week. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Opponents of the bill amassed more than 620,000 signatures so that the new law’s status would be subject to a ballot measure in November, meaning that state voters will decide whether it goes into effect or not.

Fonda’s “Art for a Safe and Healthy California” Beverly Hills fundraiser on April 9 sought to sell donated artwork for the sake of raising money for initiatives to keep SB 1137 in place, 

The event featured famous guests like Chelsea Handler, Maria Shriver, and Judd Apatow, as well as also celebrity performer John Legend, who co-hosted the event with Fonda along with his wife, Chrissy Teigen.

Eric and Wendy Schmidt were also co-hosts of the event, as was Larry Gagosian, the owner of the famed Gagosian gallery, where the event was held.

Fonda spoke during the event, focusing her message on calling out the big oil companies working to overturn SB 1137. “I feel very pissed off about it. People have fought for [this] for almost a century,” she said, adding, “There are almost 3 million people in California that live next to a well, and about 700 organizations have been focused on this. And they fought like hell.”

Fonda continued, praising the governor for being the first governor to push back against big oil in the state. “Oil, for centuries, has ruled California, and no governor had been willing to touch it until Governor Newsom. And so when he signed the bill, we were so happy. And then to have the oil companies trying to overturn it is unconscionable. They have to be stopped.”

She encouraged attendees, “Talk about it. Let everybody you know, know. Donate [if you can], but also if we have awareness, we win. Because truth is on our side, so we just have to get the word out.”

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Fonda arrested

FILE – In this Oct. 25, 2019 file photo actress and activist Jane Fonda is arrested at the Capitol for blocking the street after she and other demonstrators called on Congress for action to address climate change, in Washington. Fonda spent a night in a Washington, D.C., jail.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Later in the week, Fonda spoke at several events at USC Annenberg, most notably at a panel on environmental issues.

During the event, Fonda shared with the crowd how she got her start in climate activism, talked a bit about her Fire Drill Fridays rallies that she started in 2019 to protest inaction on climate change, and spoke about the time she spent in jail after being arrested during a protest.

“I turned 82 in jail. What was so great is that most of the people that came had never been to a rally before and never gotten arrested before,” she said.

The actress also apologized to the young audience as they must bear the damage caused by climate change. “I’m sorry that we’ve created this issue for you,” she said. “But we can overcome it if we work fast and create awareness.”

Fonda stressed the stakes of the moment, declaring, “We have to change people. The climate crisis is a manifestation of racism, misogyny and patriarchy. It’s a mindset. When we confront the fossil fuel industry, we have to work on our mindsets.”

She also touted the importance of how activists need to deliver their messages, stating, “It’s how you make them feel. Stories are the best way to make people feel furious, sad, angry, whatever.”

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