When our fabulous Simran interviewed Arianna Huffington, she was a little skeptical about Arnold Schwarzenegger's green credentials as Governor of California:
"It is incredibly important to ask whether the measures that are being taken are enough to get us to the stated goal, or is it another way to get credit for something that will never happen. And by then, of course, the governor will no longer be in office and there is no accountability."
Of course Ms. Huffington ran, and lost, against Arnie, so her criticisms should be taken in context, but she is right to say that announcements in themselves are not going to stop global warming. She is also right that some of the Governor's 'green' moves are little more than gestures (a Hummer on biofuels is still a Hummer). Fortunately, however, as we learned through Remy at the fabulous O2 Network, the Governor seems to be going out of his way to prove that his greenness is more than just talk. In a recent interview on CNN Money he sets out some of the measures he is taking to make California a leader in sustainability.
Among the highlights, Arnie defends his moves to enact strict emissions standards on US car makers. He argues that the reasons US manufacturers are struggling with this legislation is, quite simply, because they are behind their Asian and European counterparts. However, he is careful not to give the impression that he is unsympathetic to business:
"We don't want you to suffer; we want you to make money. I'm a businessperson who sympathizes with both the economy and the environment. So we say by 2012, we start making changes. We're giving an immense amount of time."
Interestingly, the Governator also lets on that he has a harder time selling his environmental concerns to Republicans than he does to Democrats, though he is quick to point out that there is opposition on both sides. He is quick to dismiss the Global Warming skeptics, arguing that this problem is not going to go away, and that he intends California to take the lead:
"I'm not an environmental fanatic. That's why our program [in California] works, because people know that I have not come from that background. As governor, you talk to scientists at universities. These are not wacky people, but they will tell you straight. Then you see the reports of 3,000 scientists, then you read reports of the UN. There is no conspiracy, this is real stuff.
I'm an optimist. I don't look at this as if the world is coming to an end. I see it as a great opportunity to clean up our mess. We're grownups, we aren't children, and we can do it. That's why we like to be out front in California. That's power."
While there will always be folks saying he's not doing enough, it seems fair to say that Mr Schwarzenegger is doing more than many of his peers. Let's just hope that States across the country follow in his footsteps, or better yet, seek to out compete the sunshine State in the race to sustainability. And while, on balance, we'd probably rather see a Hummer running on biofuels than Middle Eastern oil, we'd much rather see a Governor that doesn't promote big-car culture in the first place.