Give incentives, don’t inflict guilt, repackage the climate message
Arnold Schwarzenegger has some advice for his successor as governor of California, Jerry Brown: “The important thing is for California to stay in there and continue the things that we started.” The former governor was talking to actor Harrison Ford at a recent fundraiser for the non-profit Conservation International (CI), about advancing the environmental and climate agenda.
“Concentrate on giving incentives to companies because in the end it’s technology that will save us all,” Schwarzenegger told the group of several hundred CI donors at San Francisco’s Four Seasons Hotel last week.
Ford, who was moderating the on-stage dialog, expressed frustration that apathy toward climate change is “a daunting obstacle to overcome.”
Schwarzenegger urged a repackaging of the message. “I’m not a big believer in the guilt trip that has happened; in the Al Gore type of philosophy where you make people feel guilty,” he said. “Forget talking about the environment,” he said, if that’s an obstacle for Republican lawmakers. “Let’s talk about green energy. Let’s just reframe it.”
Ford seemed to be taking a different tack, pointing to California’s involvement under Schwarzenegger in programs to curtail deforestation, known by the acronym “REDD.”
“The answer’s not technology in the short term, but taking expedient and important critical steps immediately, like REDD, which can address at very low cost, without technology, the issue of climate change,” said Ford. Loss of forests around the world, especially in tropical zones, has been blamed for as much as 20% of global carbon emissions.
Ford said CI is working to “value the free services of Nature appropriately (such as clean air & water, healthy soils). We’re working on framing that argument.”
CI founder Peter Seligmann told the gathering that his organization has reframed — not just the message — but its mission emphasis from protecting biodiversity to improving human well-being.
Speaking to the value of framing, the former governor said he was “tricked” into making the appearance by Ford, who is also a CI vice chairman. According to Schwarzenegger, Ford asked if he believed in “free speech.” When the latter replied that he did, Harrison said “Good, because you’ll be giving one.” (Pa-rump-bump — One gets the sense that this gag has been used before to break the ice before a speech).
Referring to the former governor, Seligmann said he was touched by the presence of an endangered species: “a moderate Republican” (pa-rump-bump).