Arnold Schwarzenegger

Address to the United Nations on Global Climate Change

delivered 24 September 2007, United Nations General Assembly

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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Well thank you very much for the wonderful introduction.

Thank you, Secretary General, Mr. President, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen:

I have come to feel great affection for the peoples of the world because they've always been so welcoming to me -- if it is as a bodybuilding champion, or as a movie star, private citizen, or as the governor of the great state of California. And you, their delegates, have also made me feel very welcome here this morning. So I want to thank you for this great honor for having me here.

I also want to thank my wife and my partner and the First Lady of California, Maria Shriver, for being here today with me. Give her a big hand -- right over there she is.

Now, I've been asked -- I've been asked to talk to you today about what is happening in California. What are we doing about climate change? Well ladies and gentlemen, something remarkable is beginning to stir -- something revolutionary, something historic and transformative. Let me give you some background.

California already leads the nation in information technology. We lead the nation in nanotechnology, in biotechnology, and in medical technology. We generate one of every four U.S. patents, and we attract almost half of all U.S. venture capital. And according to The Economist magazine, California is also home to three of the top six universities in the world. And in addition to all of this, California is the seventh largest economy in the world.

Now I do not mention these things to just simply boast or brag. I'm mentioning it because California is a very powerful state, a very powerful place. And when do something, it has consequences. And here is what we are doing.

California is mobilizing -- technologically, financially, and politically -- to fight global climate change. Now we're not doing this alone. While California is leading in the U.S., we are building on the work of the European countries who have led the way up until now and have done extraordinary work. England has already met its Kyoto goals. Germany has pioneered solar. The EU has led with its trading system. And the list goes on and on.

But California, because of its unique position, is on the cutting edge of what is to come. And what is coming will benefit the countries and peoples represented in this chamber. Last year in California, we enacted greenhouse gas emission standards that were beyond anyone else's dreams. We enacted the world’s first low carbon fuel standards.

Now do I believe that California’s standards will solve global warming? Of course not. What we’re doing is is changing the dynamic, preparing the way and encouraging the future. The aerospace industry built the modern economy of Southern California. The computer industry and the internet built the economy of the Silicon Valley. And now green, clean technology -- along with biotech -- will take California to the next level.

Right now, in California, the brightest scientists from around the world and the smartest venture capitalists are racing to find new energy technologies and the solution to global warming. It is a race that is fueled by billions and billions of dollars. Last year alone, California received more than 1.1 billion dollars in clean tech investment. And this amount is expected to grow by 20 to 30% annually for the next ten years. More venture capital is being invested in clean tech than in telecommunications. Now I have been to those labs and research parks. I have talked with the scientists and to the venture capitalists. I have seen their ambition. And let me tell you, I would not bet against it.

So what does all this mean for the nations in this chamber? Well the cell phone, which started as a tool for the rich, is now widespread in the developing world. The price has dropped dramatically, and therefore it can be afforded by almost everyone. And the same thing will happen with environmental technologies. And it is in the developed world's best interests to help the poor nations finance these advancements.

When it comes to the environment, the technologies are changing; the economics are changing; and the urgency's changing. So the question today is this: Are the nations of the world ready are [sic] to change? I believe that California will do great things, amazing things, but we need the world to do great things, too.

The time has come to stop looking back at the Kyoto protocol. The time has come to stop looking back in blame or suspicion. The consequences of global climate change are so pressing - that it doesn’t matter who was responsible for the past. What matters is who is answerable for the future. And that means all of us.

The rich nations and the poor nations have different responsibilities, but one responsibility we all have -- and that is action. Action, action, action. The current stalemate between the developed and the developing worlds must be broken. It is time to came together in a new international agreement that can be embraced by rich and poor nations alike. California is moving the United States beyond debate and doubt to action. So I urge this body to push its members to action also.

Ladies and gentlemen, in closing, let me just say this: Do not lose hope. I do not believe that doom and gloom and disaster are the only outcomes. Humanity is smart, and nature is amazingly regenerative. I believe that we can renew the climate of this planet. I believe this 100 percent. So I pledge to you, the members of the United Nations, that we in California will work with all our heart to this end for which we all long.

Thank you very much. Thank you.


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