The Terminator has climate change in his sights. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California and an action-movie star reborn, is traveling around the world taking action against global warming. Will he save the world while also redeeming his tarnished image?
"There is a massive weight to be lifted off of our world," Schwarzenegger said in Algeria last month as he announced the latest office of his nonprofit, R20 Regions of Climate Change. "The U.N. can't do it alone. But together, we can."
The man often dubbed the "Governator" said his experience in California showed him that the world can be more energy efficient while embracing cleaner energy sources. "California is 40 percent more energy efficient than the rest of the United States," he said during his speech. "If the rest of the United States followed our lead, the country could close 75 percent of our coal-fired power plants."
Schwarzenegger also used California as an example during a recent trip to Australia. In mid-June he co-authored a newspaper opinion piece with then Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, where they wrote "California and Australia have a lot in common — climate change threatens our fragile environments and aggravates serious bushfires, droughts and floods, which put our important agricultural industries at risk. Because of these similar challenges, even though we are leaders from different sides of the political spectrum, we strongly agree on two fundamental ideas — that taking action on climate change can no longer be delayed and that such actions can succeed beyond partisan politics."
The Los Angeles Times doesn't remember Schwarzenegger's time as governor as fondly, pointing out that California has "a mountain of debt" by the time he left office and that his "high-profile marriage" went down in dramatic, public flames. In fact, although Schwarzenegger is touring the world promoting action against climate change, he hasn't been making any political appearances in his own state. But the Times points out that Schwarzenegger did have a positive environmental legacy in California, where he signed the first state law capping emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses.
Although unpopular in California, the former (and possibly future) Terminator is still much beloved around the world for his stance on climate change. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso last month told the actor-turned-activist, "You have been a fighter on the screens too long. You are a fighter in the real world, too – a fighter for a sustainable energy and for the climate future of our planet. It is good that you show the way, and that together we remind everybody of our collective responsibility for the future of our fragile planet."
Schwarzenegger's philosophy appears to be to inspire action wherever he can. As he told Politico last year, "We [California] did not want to wait for Washington or anybody else. What we want to do is inspire other states and other provinces to do the same thing. Don't wait; here's what you can do."
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