Capitol Alert

Arnold Schwarzenegger to Paris: Simplify the message on climate change


Gov. Jerry Brown, with 20 scheduled appearances in and around Paris through next week, is a relatively hot commodity in the climate-change world – a crowd-pleasing choice if you are organizing a “city and subnational engagement session,” a “dialogue” or a “documentary screening panel” around the United Nations climate summit.

But what if you are a Parisian in search of more punch?

Allow California to offer you this: Arnold Schwarzenegger, like Brown a promoter of policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but with box office returns.

The former governor, who is to arrive Saturday, was on a FaceTime call from his Brentwood home Friday, echoing Brown’s appeal for a regional, “bottom-up” approach on climate policy and lamenting what he said is a failure to communicate the immediate health effects of pollutants that, in addition to warming the Earth, contribute to death and disease.

“I think it is sad the way, you know, the miscommunication about climate change, because so many times, you know, you hear … that the oceans will rise, and the sea levels are rising and the temperature’s rising and the icebergs’ melting, and it’s all stuff that people cannot even relate to,” Schwarzenegger said. “I mean, our brain is not wired that way, that we’re worried about things that are happening in 2050, or 50 years from now. It’s wired about what’s happening today, and no one – even the top environmental officials – really communicates this the right way.”

Schwarzenegger was wearing a T-shirt and talking about salesmanship.

“We’ve just got to simplify the message,” he said. “We need to have the general public become part of the movement, and the only way the general public becomes part of the movement is if it is a simple message, and if it’s an uplifting message, and if they know that if we don’t go in the right direction it goes south and we’re going to have the consequences of all these people dying. And I think we can do better than that.”

Schwarzenegger, who signed Assembly Bill 32, California’s landmark greenhouse gas reduction bill, is scheduled to give three speeches and to take questions from students.

In the interview, the Republican said he plans to talk about “the importance of regional governments to do their share and not to wait for an international treaty or for some, you know, national stuff happening or national laws being passed.”

His own experience in California, he said, was that “we had every obstacle in the world at a national level, but we as a state moved forward in a very successful way.”

He should attract a crowd.

On a train from the United Nation’s climate conference to downtown Paris the other day, an aide in the French parliament said she hadn’t heard of Schwarzenegger’s successor, Brown.

But the former governor?

The woman beamed: “Of course.”

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders