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'We must talk about the health aspects' of climate change, Schwarzenegger says

Arnold Schwarzenegger arrives by bicycle to meet Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Monday. (Thibault Camus / Associated Press)
Arnold Schwarzenegger arrives by bicycle to meet Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Monday. (Thibault Camus / Associated Press)

He showed up at Paris City Hall on Monday on a green bicycle and wearing a green tie to talk climate change with the mayor.

But Arnold Schwarzenegger almost didn’t make the trip from Los Angeles. One of the wildfires scorching Southern California was threatening his home.

“Luckily we have extraordinary firefighters,” he told a group of officials and journalists.

The actor and former governor of California was speaking in Paris as the founder of R20,  a nonprofit based in Geneva that aims to help regional, state and local governments reduce their carbon emissions by developing clean energy sources. He met with the mayor, Anne Hidalgo.

The French, like much of the world, were dismayed when President Trump announced in June that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate change accord signed last year to slow emissions and limit global warming. Schwarzenegger did his best to reassure them.

“It doesn’t matter that Donald Trump backed out of the Paris agreement, because the private sector didn’t drop out, the public sector didn’t drop out, the universities didn’t drop out, the scientists didn’t drop out, the engineers didn’t drop out.… No one else dropped out,” he said.

“Donald Trump pulled Donald Trump out of the Paris agreement, so don’t worry about that,” he said. “We at a sub-national level are going to pick up the slack and continue on. We will fight and we will create the kind of future for our children and grandchildren because that is our responsibility and no one will stop us.”

In October, a dozen cities, including Los Angeles and Paris, pledged to dramatically reduce the use of gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2030 — a plan that Schwarzenegger said was meant to “inspire the rest of the world.” 

He also encouraged people to talk about climate change in terms of air pollution and the toxic fumes that accompany carbon dioxide in exhaust from cars and factories.

“We must talk about the health aspects,” he said. “This is what people can relate to. People want to survive. That is the way the human brain is wired. If you say that eventually our glaciers are melting, the iceberg is melting, the North Pole is going to melt, the sea levels are rising in 20 years ... people can not relate to that.” 

“When you talk about how many people die every year, when you tell them 9 million people die every year — 19,000 every day … then they get the message.”

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