Arnold Schwarzenegger got on my good side last week when I saw an excellent video of him telling people it’s time to “stand up against the oil companies.” He isn’t stopping with a simple interview and call to action, though.
In what is likely his last performance on a world stage as governor, Schwarzenegger this week launched the R20 climate network, an alliance of regional leaders who have pledged to work together to fight climate change. Schwarzenegger is the “founding father” of the new venture, a self-appointed global champion in the war against climate change.
But there’s one big change he’s interested in making relative to other climate action champions. He’s looking to drop the popular terms (“climate change” and “global warming”). He sees these as too polarizing, too politicized, and hindering Republicans and Independents from addressing a topic they should care about as much as anyone.
“People get stuck and fall in love with their slogans and with their little agendas,” he says. “You’ve got to make it hip. You’ve got to make it sexy to be part of this movement.”
Schwarzenegger’s ready to drop the politics and get people working together to address this important topic.
“People get stuck in this political crap when in fact you don’t need to,” he said. “Let’s just leave politics out and find out what we can do together.”
On Schwarzenegger’s R20, The Guardian writes:
The vehicle for this next stage of his life is the new R20 group of city and state leaders, which Schwarzenegger conjured into being at his climate summit this week.
The group, whose name is a conscious play on the G20 club of major world economies, is devoted to putting together clean energy projects in developing countries by recruiting finance from industrialised countries. The first wave of projects is likely to involve the installation of white roofs, which reflect the sun and keep houses cool, aides said.
After this week’s launch, the next stop is Cancun, where aides say the R20 will hold a side event at the UN climate summit. Then there is the prospect of another star turn for Schwarzenegger, who is thinking of putting in an appearance at Davos, the talking shop of the global elite. Then he will see where the R20 takes him.
It’s too early to say how R20 will fill the gap in national and international action on climate change. This year’s climate summit, the third and last for Schwarzenegger, was a slightly shrunken affair, transplanted from the glitz of Los Angeles to the clean tech hub of the University of California at Davis.
Schwarzenegger managed to rustle up some big names. David Cameron joined in a video satellite conversation. Prince Charles sent a video talking about harmony. The primatologist Jane Goodall sent a rendition of a chimpanzee greeting. Harrison Ford and Deepak Chopra came in person, as did a couple of governors.
But those governors, like Schwarzenegger, will soon be leaving office. Officials from China, the world’s largest emitter, were at the meeting, but did not sign on. By lunchtime, a Dutch official, who did sign on, was telling his dining companions he thought it was another empty promise.
However, Terry Tamminen, an adviser to Schwarzenegger who will effectively run the R20, argued that the organisation would help fill the critical gap caused by the failure of the UN to reach a global agreement on climate change.
The organisation hopes to recruit enough members to represent 20% of the world’s economies within the next year. “If you start getting to that size in terms of economies of scale and greenhouse gas reductions in one organised effort, then it becomes a coalition of the willing,” he said. “Then hopefully even more of the world’s economies join in and then you get to the virtuous tipping point where it’s easier for the rest of the countries in the world to join in.”
Much of that depends on Schwarzenegger’s ability to rally celebrities, world leaders and the public. Few personalities can command the support from global leaders that he can – or boast a global fan base many million strong.
Schwarzenegger said he has led his entire life by just waiting for the pieces to fall into place, and then making his move.
“There is a lot of it that falls into place like that,” he said. “It all unfolds and you just say, ‘OK.'”
It would definitely be a big win for society if the R20 came through and made the change Schwarzenegger is hoping it will make.
Photo Credit: d_vdm via flickr (CC license)