Washington, 2 March 2011. Climate Change is something that should transcend politics, says Arnie the Gubernator. He says it is time to stop arguing, and time to start doing something. By Jeremy Torr
Speaking to an eager audience at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Washington D.C, US, Schwarzenegger called for an end to green bickering over the rights and wrongs.
“If we haven’t convinced the skeptics right now, we’re never going to,” he said. “Let’s just move past the old arguments.” He said we should all take a practical view - political upheaval in the Middle East will help boost clean energy, overthrow the old order of vested interests, and bring a new era of competitiveness.
Schwarzenegger noted that for many, the immediate problem is not saving energy, it’s the economy and jobs. But he asserted these are inexorably linked. “It is absolutely clear that the green economy is a way to keep competitive,” he said. ”Clean energy is the next great wave of innovation.”
He was also happy to give the audience an example of another “Sputnik moment” that would drive business as well as benefit the general population.
“When we went to the Moon we didn’t say to Russia, ‘You go first’,” he laughed. “When we built the first computer, we didn’t say Japan, ‘You first.’”. He suggested rather than wait for others to take the lead while the US guzzles oil, they should take the lead and go green with a vengeance.
Schwarzenegger proposed a sweep of regulations that included 40 percent energy efficiency for homes, saving hundreds of dollars a year on heating and cooling. That, he said, could save up to 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases each year. He also proposed introducing legislation to regululate renewable fuels, with a goal of 33 percent renewables by 2020. “We could close three-quarters of our coal plants,” he said. He was also keen to talk up electric and energy-efficient cars.
He also cited the health benefits of a greener approach, pointing out statistics that suggest that in the US alone, some 100,000 people die each year from oil-based pollution - more deaths than car accidents, drunk drivers, gang wars, suicides and military deaths combined.
“You can’t just keep talking about global warming - people can’t relate to that,” he pointed out. “But people dying, they can relate to that.”