Climate change: How Arnold Schwarzenegger and Scotland are working together to reach net-zero carbon emissions – Angus Robertson
Arnold Schwarzenegger is a genuine superhero. Having already succeeded as the world’s greatest-ever champion body-builder, a Hollywood action-movie megastar, and governor of California, the Terminator is now a trailblazing campaigner for climate action. Leading the Arnold Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative, the ‘governator’ has taken to the international diplomatic stage and the media to press home his message that we need to deal with the climate emergency as an absolute priority.
At a packed Austria Global Summit in the historic Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Schwarzenegger addressed decision-makers from around the world, imploring countries to "build, build, build” the infrastructure needed for a net-zero economy. His strong message highlighted the multiple crises facing the world. After the Covid pandemic, a war in Europe has resulted in thousands of dead civilians, millions of refugees and surging fuel and food prices around the world. The insecure geopolitical situation affects the lives of everyone on different levels. Our supply of energy is threatened and inflation is roaring. The climate crisis seems to fall behind even though global warming has been showing its devastating effects in many regions in recent years.
Schwarzenegger has a long track record as an environmental campaigner. When he was the Republican governor of California, a landmark climate change law, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, was enacted in 2006, introducing greenhouse gas emission targets for the state. Now he wants the rest of the world to keep up the momentum.
It was an honour to attend the Austria World Summit and see Scotland highlighted from the stage as a trailblazing nation on renewables and the energy transition. I was able to take part in a session with US Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s federal minister for climate change and environmental coordination, and Austrian environment minister Leonore Gewessler. Scotland’s huge renewable electricity and hydrogen potential is of huge interest to continental audiences who are beginning an energy transition and will need to be energy importers from northern Europe.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was clear, stressing that we can’t be deterred from climate action: “Some of us feel overwhelmed. However, we have the power to solve these challenges and change the way we live and produce towards the better. No more ‘we could’, ‘we should’ or ‘someone would need to…’ but rather use the momentum to implement and put those concrete climate actions and solutions in motion is the way forward.”
California and Scotland are both leading members of the Under2 Coalition: the largest global network of states and regions committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. Today, the coalition represents 167 individual states, regions, provinces and subnational governments along with several other national and subnational entities, totalling more than 50 per cent of global GDP.
By working together we can and must do everything we possibly can to limit global warming to under two degrees. To be in with a fighting chance at doing this, we must halve global emissions in the next ten years – that's why the 2020s have to be the Climate Decade.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is famous for many of his movie lines. Perhaps the most fitting quote for our climate challenge comes from Terminator: “There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”