Arnold Schwarzenegger: Look to California, not the US, on global warming

We can prove to the world we can make a stand without harming our economy
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The Independent Online

There are some issues in the world that are simply so compelling, whether in the United States or in the United Kingdom, that they demand us to put aside our partisan differences and attack them head on.

In California, we have spent much of the past year doing just that on global warming and other environmental challenges. We've even signed an agreement with Tony Blair to fight climate change together, across an ocean and continent, because protecting our planet demands nothing less. By partnering with the UK on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, we can devise new market-based mechanisms that spur innovation, collaborate on technology research and lead on an issue where the US government has been slow to act.

Because the federal government in Washington has not led on this issue, we in California are determined to move our state, nation and even the world forward in the fight against global warming. Once we prove to the world that we can make a stand against damaging climate change without harming our economy, I know we can sell this story around the world and accomplish something profound.

I ran for governor because I believed I could use my energy, my common-sense business background and my celebrity to effect positive change in my beloved state of California. And because people everywhere love to follow what they first see happening in the Golden State, I know we can take some of those positive changes and inspire the world.

It has sometimes been a struggle, but we've achieved remarkable results in California through compromise, bold action and by putting people and the environment first.

Whether it's unprecedented public investment in stem-cell research or pushing solar energy and hydrogen fuel as alternatives to oil, California is once again a leader in innovation and creative solutions to the world's problems. That's why the (RED) project, spearheaded by my friend Bono and brother-in-law Bobby Shriver, is so appealing to me. Nothing is more powerful than a single good idea that has the appeal to be embraced by millions, and this is one of those ideas.

Much like our global environmental challenges, the Aids epidemic in Africa concerns the entire world. And Bono knows that celebrities, who often make news for good deeds rather than for problems with drug or alcohol, can bring about great global change because the world listens when they speak. For example, just look at the contributions from early Aids-fighting pioneer Elizabeth Taylor. She is on a long list of celebrities-- from people such as Paul Newman to Ted Turner - who have made a difference in world affairs.

I know that Americans and good people in Britain and everywhere want to be part of wiping out the Aids scourge in Africa. By patronising companies who pledge part of their revenues and profits to fighting this epidemic, we can all make a tremendous difference.

We are also fighting Aids in California, providing nearly $300m to provide life-saving medicine to low-income persons with the disease. And we've started a methamphetamine public education campaign aimed at high-risk populations affected by meth.

Winston Churchill said, "If we are together, nothing is impossible." It's true. With technology and global markets, the world is getting smaller. We are all in this life together. All of our dots connect. If one part of the world is in misery, we are all diminished.

I don't believe we have the luxury of sitting back and ignoring big problems such as Aids or global warming simply because they are big and complex.

I left a very comfortable life in Hollywood to run for Governor of California because I wanted to make a difference on the big issues of the day. There is always more to do, but I am proud to be able to say that we are making a difference, and that the public yearns for solutions that move us all forward.

By setting aside political differences and working together, as we are in California, we can make a foothold against global warming. We can make solar energy the fuel of choice rather than oil. We can push medical research that saves people from diabetes, Alzheimer's and other devastating diseases. And we can fight Aids a continent away.

Get involved. Be part of the solution. Make a difference. As I have found out first hand since becoming Governor, there is no more satisfying feeling in the world.

The writer is the Governor of California