When it was announced that Egypt would be hosting Cop 27, Amir El-Masry knew he had to be involved.
“I just wanted to use my voice and the platform to make something happen,” El-Masry, who plays Mohamed Al-Fayed on hit Netflix show The Crown, tells The National.
“I was aware that (climate change) has been a growing issue since 2015. However, I wasn't actively involved on a [major] level, I was more conscious on a personal level as to my consumption or how I go about my daily life.”
El-Masry was at Cop 27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, last week and also helped promote the conference, hoping to inspire change across the region. The event welcomes world leaders, academics and experts to discuss climate change and implement policies to address it; it runs until Friday.
“The fact that this year Cop 27 is taking place in Egypt, I do feel that we want to be one of the leading countries in Africa [on this issue],” Masry says. “We want to be part of that change and prove ourselves. And I wanted to be a part of that change, for sure.”
El-Masry recently starred in a promotional video depicting how the climate crisis is affecting the lives of people around the world. Even though the video was filmed in a studio, the floods and wildfires are based on events that have taken place over the last few years.
“The catastrophes that have been happening around the world, like the floods in Pakistan, wildfires in North America and the heatwaves that were happening last year in London are quite alarming, to say the least,” El-Masry says.
Halting climate change can seem like an overwhelming challenge, but the actor believes that everyone can do something to fight for the planet’s future.
“From a micro level, from a tangible action, we can be aware of our consumption,” El-Masry says. “Or how we use public transport and our own vehicles, our use of plastic, how we take care of our surrounding environment.”
There is still a lot of work to be done from an institutional level when it comes to prioritising costs and becoming greener. This means that companies would need to reassess their systems to reduce their impact on the environment, which can include everything from using recycled materials to reducing resources.
“It might prove a more costly method to be more green to begin with, but in the long run, I think it will pay off,” El-Masry says.
“We do need to support developing countries with finance for renewable energy." He says developed nations should also help to educate others about adapting for the future.
As he worked to promote Cop 27, El-Masry saw hope in the fight against climate change.
He was pleased to see initiatives in Egypt such as VeryNile, which aims to clean the Nile and raise awareness about the importance of protecting the environment. The interest from young Egyptians was also encouraging, he says.
“I was happy to hear that there are a lot of young people in Egypt now that want to help be a part of this change,” Masry says.
“Even from a local level the fact that Cop 27 is taking place in Egypt is huge. Students around Egypt are aware that it is taking place, there is a pride there and they're getting more informed about it. That's a really exciting thing.”
Keeping it real in 'The Crown'
As an actor, it’s important for El-Masry to shed light on issues and depict characters in an authentic manner.
Playing a young Al-Fayed in the fifth season of The Crown is one such instance.
“It can be a touchy subject, the relationship between Dodi and Mohammed Al-Fayed and the royal family. So we wanted to make sure that their motivations were very clear," he says.
"Whether or not you are with them or against them, or you don't have any sides, you at least feel something towards them, rather than just being a passageway for the rest of the series.”