When California voted Governor Jerry Brown into office, they did so on the heels of predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decidedly Republican platforms. But for all his political flexing to bring bring one of the most notably liberal states in the Union into line, there was one area where the body builder made movie star has always differed greatly from his party – climate change. Schwarzenegger has been speaking up about climate change for years, which is why it was no surprise when he joined current Governor Brown in Paris to talk about a call to action. But just what do the two California governors have in mind?
A Bipartisan Gesture
During their time together, the two didn’t actually lay out much of a cohesive plan in terms of climate change. They’ve each been working on their own toward actual change. Instead, their coming together during the United Nations Summit was an effort to call attention on an international level to a need to work beyond politics to create real strategies.
Schwarzenegger encourages the international community to think about climate change in a non-political way, and instead encouraged consideration of scientific evidence. Brown, for his part, sent a message meant to hit closer to home as he talked about the importance of Republicans and Democrats being able to work together on this issue.
Historically, the Republican Party has been opposed to taking any action regarding climate change, and has often dismissed it as a theory or myth. For the two statesmen to sit down together for a bipartisan call to action, then, is no small deal. The message they’re trying to get across at home and abroad is that regardless of politics, a state does not have to suffer under environmental regulation. They cited their two exceptionally different terms as an example of how environmental regulation doesn’t have to be subject to politics.
What They’re Doing
During his term, Schwarzenegger approved landmark legislation that capped greenhouse gas emissions, cracked down on utilities and corporations working with non-compliant suppliers, and issued an executive order to reduce greenhouse gases to 80% below their 1990 levels by 2050.
For his part, Brown has been a major player in devising the Under 2 Memorandum of Understanding, a sub-national effort seeking an agreement to keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius. Brown has also been incredibly vocal about Republican rejection of climate change. Even as the party as a whole starts to warm up to the facts, Brown has been targeting the party in full to draw attention to 2016 frontrunners’ nay-saying about the matter. Brown has also been spearheading efforts increase California consumption of renewable energy and make the state as a whole more energy efficient, signing in new statewide goals in October of 2015.
How the two Governors’ efforts will stand up over time has yet to be seen, but they send out the same clear message that the two tried to send during their Paris meeting – regardless of politics, the time for action is now.