Arnold Schwarzenegger Says Environmental Protection Is About More Than Convincing Trump

Actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said that environmental protection efforts need to be bigger than just focusing on President Donald Trump.

In an appearance on Meet The Press Sunday, Schwarzenegger and former Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about their efforts to bring awareness to climate change and environmental issues through World War Zero, a climate coalition that includes both men as members.

When host Chuck Todd asked Schwarzenegger if he tried to convince Trump to change his environmental policies, Schwarzenegger said: "It's not just one person; we have to convince the whole world."

The former governor proposed changing language used to discuss climate change and environmental issues. "I think the way to convince the whole world is by not just always talking about 'climate change,' which doesn't really mean that much to people," he said.

Citing polls from the USC Schwarzenegger Institute, Schwarzenegger stated that focusing more on pollution caused a large jump in numbers of conservatives who were interested in finding solutions. "The environmental community has to communicate better and talk about pollution, because pollution is a threat right now."

Arnold Schwarzenegger Climate CHange
Austrian-US actor, filmmaker, politician and activist Arnold Schwarzenegger gives a speech during the opening ceremony of the R20 Regions of Climate Action Austrian World Summit in Vienna, Austria, on May 28, 2019. GEORG HOCHMUTH/AFP/Getty

He also criticized a graphic that Todd used when introducing the piece with a projection of how much of the southern part of Vietnam will be underwater by 2050. He stated that issues connect more with voters and everyday people when there is a sense of immediacy to the issues.

"When you introduced this piece, you talked about 'in 2050.' People can't think about 2050," Schwarzenegger said. "They think about now: 'How can I survive? How can I provide jobs? How can I go and feed my family?'"

Both Kerry and Schwarzenegger spoke about the importance of reaching out to a diverse group of people to address climate change issues. Kerry stated World War Zero's focus on bringing in people of many different backgrounds is key to the group's success. "We have our unlikely allies coming together here," he said. "There's no group that has people as diverse as ours in terms of nationality, age, gender, ideology, background, life experience, and all of these people have come together saying we have to treat this like a war."

Schwarzenegger also addressed fears that stricter environmental laws may harm the economy. "We have the strictest environmental laws in California, and at the same time, we are number one economically," he said. "We create more jobs-millions of jobs-since we created those laws... It shows to you the power that we have by going green and the kind of jobs we created."