California’s Governor Schwarzenegger asked US Automakers to go “Green”

by Lisa Ziegler
April 16th, 2007
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The remarkable speech delivered by California’s Honorable Governor Schwarzenegger has turned the afternoon at the Georgetown University into an inspiring event.

Here is the print version of the keynote address of Gov. Schwarzenegger (with the introduction part cut):

GOVERNOR: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you, John, for the wonderful introduction, I appreciate it very much. And it is great to be here today at Georgetown University, also known in my house as the alma mater, because of course my wife went to school here, and she graduated here at Georgetown. (Applause)

So I want to thank my wife also for coming here today and sitting here in the front row. And she is, of course, the most terrific first lady that the United States has ever seen, so give her a big hand again. (Applause)

So I have to say that I am somewhat amazed to be here, and the reason is because three and a half years ago when I ran for governor I was followed around by environmental protestors with signs. They didn’t like my Humvees and Hummers, and my SUVs, or anything that I did. As a matter of fact, when I promised that I would improve the environment when I became governor, they didn’t believe that either. So here we are, three and a half years later, and I’m on the cover of Newsweek as one of the big environmentalists. Only in America, that’s all I can say. (Applause)

But let me tell you something; even though I love being on the cover of Newsweek, but there should have been some other people on that cover as well, and those are people that were my partners in the Legislature. They have worked very hard, they were incredible partners, and I’m talking here about, first of all, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Senator Perata. I invited both of them to come here but they couldn’t make it, but I just wanted to thank them publicly for being such great environmentalists and such great leaders in the environment. So let’s give them a big hand, even though they’re not here. (Applause)

And I want to thank also someone that is here with us today, and this is Assemblywoman Fran Pavley. She has been such a great, great warrior. (Applause)

Let me tell you something; this is the real deal. This is the real deal. This woman has been fighting for the environment way before I ever became governor, and she has really been the author of these very important legislations, and she has worked with our office, and she is a team player. And this is, you can see here, she’s a Democrat. Also the Speaker is a Democrat. Senator Perata is a Democrat. So this is what I’m talking about, working together in a bipartisan or post-partisan way, and this is how we get things done, because we work what is best for the people of California and for America. So thank you again to Assemblywoman Pavley. (Applause)

Now, I know this is an environmental conference, but I do want to start talking first about bodybuilding. And the reason is because bodybuilding is another passion of mine, as you probably know, and it has similarities there. Bodybuilding used to have a very sketchy image. As a matter of fact, so much so that some people that worked out seriously and pumped weights didn’t admit they were doing bodybuilding. As a matter of fact, say in the old days, some of the very famous Hollywood actors like Kirk Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, and the list goes on and on, they all worked out with weights, but they never admitted it publicly because they didn’t want to be associated with the gymnasiums that were like dungeons and that had fanatics, and that had weird people training in there. That is the kind of an image that it had.

But we changed that, we consciously changed that. And what we did was, we came out with a book called Pumping Iron—I know a lot of you are familiar with that, especially the students—then the movie Pumping Iron, and that changed bodybuilding, the image of bodybuilding, dramatically. As a matter of fact, the perception of bodybuilding began to change and it became more and more hip and more and more attractive. And then all of a sudden, everyone wanted to exercise. As a matter of fact, today you can go to any place in the world and you will find a bodybuilding gymnasium or a place where you can do weight resistance training, and you can go into any gymnasium and you will find ordinary people talking about their abs, their lats, their deltoids, body fat, and all those kinds of things. So this is how much it changed. It became mainstream, it became sexy, attractive.

And this is exactly what has to happen with the environmental movement. Like bodybuilders, environmentalists were thought of as kind of weird and fanatics also. You know, the kind of serious tree huggers. Environmentalists were no fun; they were like prohibitionists at a fraternity party. (Applause)

So someone the other day just showed me a cartoon that was of a car salesman in a showroom talking to this couple. And the car salesman pointed at the car and said, “This car runs on an ordinary gasoline-powered engine, and then when it feels a little guilt, when it senses guilt, it switches over to battery power.” Now, that’s funny, it’s a cartoon. But let me tell you something; there’s a lot of truth to that. For too long the environmental movement had been powered by guilt.

But I believe that this is about to switch over from being powered by guilt to being powered by something much more positive, much more dynamic, something much more capable of bringing about major change. You know the kind of guilt I’m talking about; the smokestacks belching pollution that are powering our Jacuzzis and our big-screen TVs, and in my case powering my private airplanes. So it is too bad, of course, that we can’t all live simple lives like the Buddhist monks in Tibet. But you know something? That’s not going to happen.

So ladies and gentlemen, I don’t think that any movement has ever made it and has ever made much progress based on guilt. Guilt is passive, guilt is inhibiting, and guilt is defensive. You remember the commercials a number of years ago, the commercials specifically of a Native American who sees what we have done to the environment and then a year runs down his cheek. You all remember that? Well, let me tell you something; that approach didn’t work, because successful movements are built on passion, they’re not built on guilt. They’re built on passion, they’re built on confidence, and they’re built on critical mass. And often, they’re built on an element of alarm that galvanizes action.

The environmental movement is, to use a popular term, about the tipping point. It’s about to get to the tipping point. There’s a tipping point, and I believe the tipping point will be occurring when the environmental movement is no longer seen as a nag or as a scold, but as a positive force in people’s lives. Now, I don’t know when that tipping point occurs, but I know where—in California. In California, we are doing everything that we can to tip the balance on the environment.

Now, first, let me start with government policy. I don’t want to go into all the initiatives that we have passed and all the laws that we have passed, because that was already eloquently explained by John when he introduced me. But there are two things that stick out that have gotten us the most attention.

1. We passed a law to cap greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by the year 2020. That basically means we are rolling back the greenhouse gases to the 1990 level by the year 2020, and then we go 80 percent below that by the year 2050.

2. I ordered a 10 percent cut in the carbon content of transportation fuels.

Now, do I believe that the standards that California sets will solve global warming? Of course not. But what we are doing is applying leverage so that at some point the whole environmental thing tips. That’s what we are trying to do. It’s like a seesaw. You walk up to it and then slowly it tips the other way. That is what we are trying to do. California, as you know, is big, California is powerful, and what we do in California has unbelievable impact and it has consequences. As a matter of fact, when you look at the globe, California is a little spot, but the kind of power of influence that we have on the rest of the world is an equivalent of whole huge continent.

We are sending the world a message. What we are saying is that we are going to change the dynamic on greenhouse gas and on carbon emissions. We are taking actions ourselves. We are not waiting for anyone, we are not waiting for the federal government or for Washington. We are creating our own partnerships. We are partnering with Great Britain, we are partnering with provinces in Canada, with states in the United States, with the western states, with the northeastern states. And you know something? Every year we are adding more and more partners to our team. We are increasing the momentum for change.

Now, there’s a billboard in Michigan that accuses me of costing the car industry 85 billion dollars. They say because of our new carbon fuel standards I cost them 85 billion dollars. The billboard says “Arnold to Michigan—drop dead.” The fact of the matter is, what I’m saying is, Arnold to Michigan—get off your butt. Get off your butt and join us. (Applause)

In fact, California may be doing more to save US automakers than anyone else, because what we are doing is we are pushing them to make changes, to make the changes so they can sell their cars in California. And we all know—let’s be honest—that if they don’t change, someone will. The Japanese will, the Chinese will, the South Koreans will, the Germans will, they all will. So what I want to do is, I want to prevent that from happening. I want them to sell their cars in California. I believe strongly in American technology, and I think in the end it will be technology that will ultimately save Detroit.

Now, California, for instance, has already a car company that’s called Tesla Motors. Tesla Motors has just designed and produced a car that’s called the Tesla Roadster. It’s 100 percent electric. Now, why is it that a car company that has never produced a car before is already producing a car with zero emissions—zero emissions—and Detroit is still lagging behind? Now, this car, let me tell you something, is a very sexy looking car. It’s really cool. I mean, I test drove it. It goes from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds. It drives 130 miles an hour, and it has 250 miles on a charge, and then the recharging only takes 3 1/2 hours. Now, that’s what I call cool. And the car cost 100,000 dollars—to be exact, 98,000 dollars—and it is so popular, it sold out immediately. And now the second version is being produced, and that car, the cost will drop down to 50,000 dollars.

So we can see where that is heading, economics tells us where this is heading. It’s like the cell phones. I remember when I bought a cell phone, the first cell phone, which was kind of a radio phone, 20 years ago. It was 1,600 dollars. The next version I bought a few years later was 1,200, and the next one was 750. I just recently bought a cell phone for my daughter and it was below 90 dollars. Now, because of the costs that have dropped down, almost everyone can afford a cell phone, and the same thing is going to happen to the environmental technologies in cars. Government can give a push by setting standards, so California is giving the nation and the world a push.

Now, beyond government policy, the second tipping factor is economic. California is the leading edge of what I call ‘the environmental economy’. The aerospace industry built the modern economy of southern California. The computer industry and the internet built the economy of Silicon Valley. And now the green clean technology, along with biotech, will be the next wave of California‘s economy.

Right now in California‘s university labs, corporate research parks, even in plain looking offices and in strip malls, something very exciting is happening—something very exciting. The nation’s brightest scientists and the smartest venture capitalists are all racing to find alternative or new technologies for alternative energy. It is a race that is fueled by billions and billions of dollars. Capitalism, interestingly enough, which was the alleged enemy of the environment, is today giving new life to the environmental movement.

Daniel Jurgen, the famous oil analyst, says that if this all-out activity continues, expect dramatic results. And the head of PG&E, California‘s largest utility, says that the energy industry is on the brink of a revolution. And you know something is up when General Electric says that it’s selling its plastic business because it sees more potential in growth and profits in environmental goods and services.

In an environmental economy the great thing is that we can do both; we can protect the environment and protect the economy, and that’s what I’ve been saying for years. Of course, people didn’t believe in it. People said that you have to choose between one or the other; we have to choose between the environment and the economy. And I said no, we can do both. We can protect the economy and protect the environment, and we have proven that in California.

Now, the third tipping point that I want to mention is the attitude of the people. I believe the environmental movement is in the midst of redefining itself as something more modern, more confident, and more positive. As governor, I talk to scientists in our universities, I talk to CEOs that run major corporations. And let me tell you, those are not wacky people. Mainstream scientists are convinced, mainstream CEOs are convinced, and if you look at the surveys, mainstream Americans are convinced that global warming and climate change is real and we have to do something about it. So who are the fanatics now? Who are the fanatics? They are the ones who are in denial. They’re in environmental denial, they’re in economic denial, and they are in political denial. Who are the fanatics when DuPont has hired the former head of Greenpeace International? Who are the fanatics when major companies are now demanding that the federal government once and for all passes new laws to set standards for greenhouse gas emissions? Major companies like DuPont, GE, Wal-Mart, BP and PG&E believe that the climate change is real. That is the mainstream speaking, that is the establishment speaking.

Now, some of you have maybe seen the cable TV show called Pimp My Ride. Have you seen that? Maybe not, maybe not everyone has seen it. But the fact of the matter is, it’s a real cool show. It’s a real cool show, and what they do is, they take old junk cars that we normally should crush, and they make them into lowriders and they make them into muscle cars. Now, my teenage son watches that show all the time, and sometimes I watch it with him.

As a matter of fact, I recently did a segment of that show that will air on Earth Day, and the reason why it will air on Earth Day is because we take this cool show and they did something, and added something that was environmentally hip. Here’s what we did. We took a 1965 Impala, and we made it into a lowrider, but not an ordinary low-rider. We dropped in an 800 horsepower engine, and that 800 horsepower engine goes from zero to 60 in 3 seconds. Now, you know how fast that is—in 3 seconds. But it is biofueled, and that means that it emits 50 percent less greenhouse gases and it goes twice as far. Now, that’s what I call cool.

You see, now we cut down on the greenhouse gas emissions, so we don’t have to really go and take away the muscle cars, we don’t have to take away the Hummers or the SUVs or anything like this, because that’s a formula for failure. Instead what we have to do is make those cars more environmentally muscular. That is what we have to do. Now, because of that, one of my Hummers now is running on biofuel, and another one of my Hummers is now running on hydrogen. So those are the kinds of changes that we have made instead of getting rid of the Hummers. (Applause)

So the new environmental movement is not about guilt, it’s not about fringe, and it’s not about being overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem, but it is about mainstream momentum, exactly what I talked about earlier with bodybuilding. We have to make it mainstream. We have to make it sexy. We have to make it attractive so that everyone wants to participate.

So finally, let me just say something about politics. Politics plays a big part in the tipping point here. If you are against taking action on greenhouse gases and common emissions your political base will melt away as surely as the polar icecaps, I can guarantee you that. You will become a political penguin on a smaller and smaller ice floe that is drifting out to sea. Good-bye, my little friend. That’s what is going to happen. (Applause)

Because the environment is a public value, and politicians who ignore it are doing so at their own peril. Now, privately I know many politicians have come up to me and said, “How can we do what you are doing in California?” And I tell them there are only two words that I have to mention, and this is mandates and markets, mandates and markets, like we have in California. And then I also added, I said, “And you have to have political courage.” I said, “Just remember that political courage is not political suicide.”

Now, some of my fellow Republicans, of course, are raising a very valid point. They say, “What good does it do if we do all of those great things for the environment, and in the meantime the developing world, where emissions are growing the fastest, doesn’t do anything?” Now, I believe in free trade, and I believe that it lifts everyone’s standard of living. But eventually, we will look at the countries that produce goods without regard to the environment the same way as we look at countries that produce goods without regard to human rights—and that means that those countries, of course, that I’m talking about are the ones that have sweat shops. My guess is that within the next decade or so if an economy ignores the damage that it’s doing to the environment, the civilized world will impose environmental tariffs, duties, and other trade restrictions to those countries. This is a matter of fair trade. Nations cannot dump products, nations cannot dump anything, and in the future they will not be able to dump carbon or greenhouse gases either, because this is an unfair trade advantage.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, in closing let me just say that there are still a lot of people that are pessimistic about how we’re going to deal with the environmental problems. I am optimistic—but I’m always optimistic—but in this case I’m very optimistic, and the reason is because I feel things tipping. I feel things tipping, I feel things moving forward. As a matter of fact, I say do not be downhearted about the environment, because things are about to tip our way.

Look what has happened this last month. A documentary about global warming has won the Oscar. You can today open up any newspaper and they’re talking about global warming and how we all can participate. Any television show, any radio show you can turn on, they’re going to talk about global warming and about the greenhouse gas emissions and green technology and so on.

Today I went to a magazine store, and in the magazine store I saw eight covers—eight covers. As a matter of fact it was nine, I found another one just an hour ago. Nine covers—nine magazine covers, all talking about green technology, about plug-in cars, and about Mother Earth, and Town and Country has a green issue, and it goes on and on. Including, of course, let’s not forget the best issue of all, Newsweek. You all saw that, right? (Applause)

So basically what I’m saying is, things are tipping our way. Thank you very much for listening, and I really appreciate you being here. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you very much. And now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to bring over to the podium my friend and a great environmentalist, great leader, great warrior for the environment, Fran Pavley, our Assemblywoman. Please. (Applause)

It can be noted that the speech of California’s Governor is directed to US automakers asking them to be vigilant in helping to resolve environmental problems by producing environment-friendly vehicles. The most popular “green vehicles” employed in the US today are hybrid cars and most of the brands that we love have joined the bandwagon except for the iconic Jeep brand which has not yet turned “green”. But in fairness to the Chrysler’s iconic brand it has improved its auto components like for instance its Jeep Wrangler parts to reduce harmful emissions.

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Lisa Ziegler is a 29-year old native of Waldport, Oregon and is currently working as a senior research analyst in a top Automotive Research Consultancy firm.

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