California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took the stage today in San Francisco at a Commonwealth Club event to celebrate the state’s success in its global warming fighting leadership. If it wasn’t obvious that the bodybuilder-turned-superstar actor-turned-governor wasn’t the typical politician, it was as he was received with a standing ovation as a Republican in one of the most progressive cities in the world, during a particularly heated election season.
In his usual self-deprecating style, Schwarzenegger compared cutting the state’s carbon footprint to the approach one might take to losing a few pounds through dieting–something the former Mr. Universe and 7-time Mr. Olympia might know a thing about–by stepping on the scale, setting a goal, and making changes in one’s lifestyle. The California (pronounced Cal-ee-for-KNEE-a, since Schwarzenegger took office in 2003) legislation that he signed into law 2 years ago commits the state to cutting emissions to 1990 levels, a 25% reduction, by 2020, and to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, sidestepping Washington’s rejection of Kyoto.
Global Warming and Man on the Moon
While the implementation of such dramatic cuts in carbon emissions is easier talked about than done, Schwarzenegger drew parallels to Kennedy’s commitment to transport man to the moon, leading with vision, inspiration, and support, rather than R&D that should have been left to NASA. Kennedy was leading a movement and Arnold has clearly demonstrated his interest in playing a leading role in fighting global warming. He also appealed to the typical Californian who can cut her footprint by 25% immediately by making small changes in her life that add up, such as driving less, washing clothes in cold water, considering solar power, turning lights off, etc.
While California has endeavored to put itself on an aggressive carbon diet, it isn’t alone. The Western Climate Initiative, comprised of seven Western states, including California, and four Canadian provinces, has committed to reducing its territories’ greenhouse gas emissions by 15% below 2005 levels by 2020. Schwarzenegger plans to bring governors from states and provinces worldwide, including China, to California to team up to fight global warming on an international scale, regardless of the support (or lack thereof) he receives from Washington or other countries’ respective top leadership.
California will not wait for Washington, which is “asleep as the wheel.”
“The global warming debate is over,” Schwarzenegger reminded everyone. Despite his deep criticism of the current administration and his endorsement of McCain, his Republican counterpart, he seemed equally supportive of both presidential candidates, saying that the country is better off with either.
He also stated that he didn’t support any more off shore drilling, pointing out that he wanted to keep California’s beaches clean. This would avoid further risk of unnecessary oil spills and address the root cause, while again crossing his party’s lines as McCain and Palin attempt to relieve concern over high oil prices with plans to drill off shore. Of course, we all know better.
Schwarzenegger: “Detroit, get off your butt!”
Arnold is also one of the first and proud owners of a “sexy” Tesla roadster that is “faster than a Porsche Turbo” and is tailpipe and even engine noise free. Telsa, he claims, was prepared to manufacture its future lineup of electric cars in New Mexico when he lured them back to California, where they would create 1,000 jobs for and invest $250 MM in San Jose. Schwarzenegger was quick to point out that Tesla had left its failing yet vastly more capitalized competitors in the dust by creating a market for and delivering a new breed of cars, and he wasn’t going to let them flee California. In doing so, he is able to keep his promise to retain and attract new businesses in the state, known for its high cost of living and operating a business. California, he recollected today, lured him from Austria with plans to make millions as a bodybuilder, then an actor, but he never expected to be its governor.
Ryan Mickle is a social entrepreneur, social media expert, and regular writer for Triple Pundit. He works with many of the consumer brands you know to advance their social responsibility through engaging stakeholders online. Ryan lives in San Francisco and can be reached at ryan at triplepundit.com.