In Paris for COP21, Arnold Schwarzenegger made a stop at Sciences Po for a discussion with students on climate issues. Watch his exclusive interview for Sciences Po.
“We are accustomed to welcoming people from the political and state spheres, and we occasionally receive people from the performing arts world, but never before have we had the two worlds embodied in one person”, said Sciences Po President Frédéric Mion in his welcoming address to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Before a full house of students and leading figures from all over the world, including former IPCC President Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, the movie star and former governor of the Great State of California talked about how he made California the most advanced state in the fight against climate change.
“Born in Austria and made in America, I was fortunate to grow up close to the earth”
In his opening address to students, Arnold Schwarzenegger explained that his commitment to the environmental cause had nothing to do with his political affiliation. “I stand before you today as a citizen of the world. Born in Austria and made in America, I was fortunate to grow up close to the earth,” he said. “The environment was absolutely everything to us (...) and I could not have imagined that air pollution would cause seven million people a year to die prematurely”.
By evoking his childhood memories, he urged students to become participants in the environmental revolution. “We all have the power to do something about the climate. It is not a movie world, this is the real world, and it is time to embark on a smarter path.”
“I am in Paris to tell subnational leaders ‘Flex your muscles’”
Drawing on his successful experience as governor of California, he focused on the potential power of subnational governments. “Cities, states and provinces hold tremendous power.” He recalled that the commitment of local stakeholders enabled California to enact its own environmental and climate change laws, regardless of the opinion of the federal government. As a result of this environmental empowerment, the biggest state of the United States is today 40 percent more energy efficient than the rest of the US.
“We must terminate the old politics of division”
From the former governor’s perspective, the success of the green revolution also depends on our ability to overcome divisions and work together. “Conservatives versus liberals, the rich versus the poor, the West versus the East… There is no conservative air or liberal air, we all breathe the same air.”
“We have to communicate much better”
Arnold Schwarzenegger – who proved himself a real expert at communicating – focused on the need to change the way we communicate about climate change, if people are to become aware that this phenomenon impacts us now.
“We have been talking about melting glaciers and rising sea levels for decades. But it has not been working. When we talk about the impacts of these phenomena by 2050, we build distance between people and the problems.”
Still dreaming of the lost paradise of his childhood, he encouraged students to come together to win the battle for the environmental revolution.
Relive the discussion with Arnold Schwarzenegger
COP21: Arnold Schwarzenegger: 'Go part-time vegetarian to protect the planet', BBC News, 8 December 2015