Institute Joins R20 and World Leaders for 1st Austrian World Summit

Vienna, Austria — Less than three weeks after President Trump announced his intention to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Governor Schwarzenegger reminded the world that it will take more than one man to stop the global march towards a clean energy future.  Arnold said "one man will not stop our progress, one man will not bring back the dirty energy of the past, one man will not defeat us. We will win, we will succeed, and we will create a future our children and grandchildren can be proud of." 

Speaking to 700 international leaders at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna at the Austrian World Summit, Arnold explained that a majority of Americans support the Paris Agreement and that together with mayors, governors and business leaders the United States would remain committed to goals outlined in that agreement.  He reminded his audience that fighting Washington on the environment is nothing new.  During his tenure in the Governor’s Office, Washington tried to prevent California from classifying greenhouse gases as pollutants.  The Schwarzenegger Administration fought the Federal Government on this issue in the courts and won.  Schwarzenegger believes that state and local governments across America will find ways to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement despite opposition from the White House. 

Schwarzenegger also took aim at those critics who say that environmentalism is bad for the economy.  “As California has led the way on environmental protection, we are fastest growing economy in the United States. We added more jobs last year than the second and third states combined.  There are ten times more clean energy jobs in California than there are coal mining jobs in the entire United States.  And here is a stat that will blow your mind: from 2012, when our landmark climate laws took effect, to 2016, California was responsible for nearly a quarter of the United States GDP growth. We represent 12 percent of the population, and 24 percent of its economic growth.” The former Governor went on to explain that this isn’t just a California phenomenon.  Lower Austria, the largest state in Austria, produces 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources and has created 40,000 new green jobs in the process. 

The inaugural Austrian World Summit was co-hosted by former Governor Schwarzenegger, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern and was organized by the R20 in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute.  The event took place on June 20th in the Austrian capitol and additional speakers included Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme Erik Solheim, COP21 President Laurent Fabius and Institute friend Andra Rupprechter among others.

The summit was designed to bring a spectrum of leaders together increase partnerships and exchange both experiences and ideas.  The event was specifically designed to help policymakers stay inspired and motivated in their efforts to implement the UN sustainable development goals and to become the premier annual meeting place for sustainable development “action heroes”. Plans are underway for the second annual Austrian World Summit in the Spring of 2018.

Photographs by Martin Hesz