Last week, Professor Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke to a packed classroom of students taking the Schwarzenegger Institute’s Environmental Policy from Idea to Passage: AB 32, The Global Warming Solutions Act class.
Professor Schwarzenegger started his talk by sharing the story of how he first got involved in environmental policy. As a child growing up in environmentally conscious Austria, Schwarzenegger said his family shared bathing water to ensure that water and energy was not wasted. This was his first glimpse into environmental activism, but one that continues to influence him today.
Schwarzenegger continued his environmental journey when he came to California in 1968. The pollution was so bad that the air was yellowed and people had to spend the day protecting their eyes from the stinging smog. Despite how large the pollution problem was, Schwarzenegger was inspired by then California Governor Ronald Reagan tackling it headon. Reagan created policies that ensured air in California would get better, something that Schwarzenegger has never forgotten.
By the time Schwarzenegger was elected Governor of California, he knew that the strong environmental legacy that California had already established would have to be continued. To accomplish his ambitious environmental goals, Schwarzenegger knew he would have to work with legislators from both political parties. He said “environmental issues should not be a party issue, it’s a people’s issue.” His bipartisan approach ultimately lead to the passage of AB 32, an environmental policy that cemented California’s leadership in fighting climate change.
Today, Governor Schwarzenegger not only remains committed to the fight against climate change, but is also encouraging the next generation of leaders to take action. In fact, the idea to teach a class about AB 32 came from the Governor’s desire to instruct and motivate future environmental leaders. Governor Schwarzenegger was impressed with the quality of students and looks forward to teaching future Schwarzenegger Institute classes.