Climate change activists have found an unlikely ally in action hero and former Republican governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. In a speech made before the first global “summit of conscience” for climate change on Tuesday, Schwarzenegger told the audience:
“I’ve starred in a lot of science fiction movies and, let me tell you something, climate change is not science fiction, this is a battle in the real world; it is impacting us right now…The debate is over and the time for action is now.”
This summit was organized by French President François Hollande, designed as a lead-up to the coming COP21 conference in Paris this November. Other famous speakers included former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, who implored his audience:
“If action is not taken immediately my grandson will live in a world suffering heat waves, severe droughts and floods. Cities like New York and Venice will drown. We are on the brink of catastrophe but the solution to the climate crisis cannot be left to governments alone … People are taking the lead and demanding change. We must not fail them.”
At the summit, countless religious and spiritual leaders, politicians, and intellectuals spoke about the importance of tackling climate change. Patriarch Bartholomew, of the Orthodox Christian Church, told the audience that “Scientists and theologians agree that humanity depends on nature. We must accept the moral imperative for action. Religion must also be involved in the crucial question of climate change”.
Other speakers were not quite as optimistic in outlook. Nobel prize-winning economist Mohemed Yunus, founder of the Bangladeshi Grameen bank (praised by many for offering “microcredit” to the poorest Bangladeshis), said that though technology could be used for the betterment of society, “technology today is in the hands of the money makers and the war-makers. They are not directing it to solve the problems of the world.”
As anticipation builds for the COP21 Paris climate summit in November, many hope that this “summit of conscience” can stir some action and encourage a binding agreement between the attending states.