Last night, ACORE awarded Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Renewable Energy Leader of the Decade as part of its 10th anniversary dinner in Washington DC. Schwarzenegger was honored for his decade of commitment and accomplishments in advancing renewable energy. In this Keynote Address, "Between Fossil Fuels and Renewables", he calls for a level playing field, saying it's his personal crusade:
Thank you for this great honor.
It’s fantastic to be here with such a wonderful organization. I can feel the energy in this room. You’re exactly the kind of people we need right now. I love to be around people who have a vision.
Since ACORE was founded, you have been promoting renewable energy to anyone who would listen.
From solar to wind to biofuel, the companies you represent are doing the serious work of our clean energy revolution.
I know we’re here to pump up renewable energy, but I’m going to begin by talking about art.
A couple weeks ago, I walked into a gallery I know well and saw some wonderful pieces by a Native American sculptor named Michael Naranjo.
Since I’d never heard of the artist, I asked the gallery owner about him. The first thing she said was, “He’s blind.” He was blinded in the Vietnam War and asked for some clay to occupy his time while he was recovering in his hospital bed. Today, his work is displayed all over the world.
He sculpts these beautiful figures of Native American warriors and eagles, which he can’t see, only feel.
That artist had a vision.
No eyesight but a vision. And he literally molded his vision into a bronze reality.
The question is whether we all, like that artist, can mold our positive vision into a green reality.
When I look around this room, I have no doubt that we can do it. You have the minds. You have the will. And you have the vision.
Your companies are developing the best new solar cells, perfecting the battery, figuring out ways to store energy, creating biofiels and on and on. The action is endless!
That’s why I’m so proud of this award, but you should know I didn’t do it alone. I should be sharing this honor with many others who also had a vision and the courage to make it a reality, so I want to thank Speaker Fabian Nunez / Senator Fran Pavley / Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols / and Secretary Linda Adams, the former head of the California EPA.
I also want to thank an extraordinary environmentalist, my adviser for the past ten years, Terry Tamminen.
As a matter of fact, every Californian deserves a piece of this award, because the people in California share our vision.
For decades California has been working to be more energy efficient by establishing a partnership with ordinary people. As a result, California is now a remarkable 40% more energy efficient than the rest of the United States.
If the rest of the United States had the same efficiency as California, we could close 75% of our coal-fired power plants.
Because of our commitment to thinking big, California has consistently moved forward toward a green energy future.
While other states have been paralyzed and are waiting for a big international agreement, California has been using more and more renewable energy – energy from above the ground.
Right now, they’re negotiating again in Durban, South Africa. The U.N has been a great force for the environment, and Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is a visionary, and I hope they come to an agreement soon.
But let’s not wait. Let’s not be paralyzed.
While they are negotiating let’s keep moving forward in the cities and states and provinces, and in the private sector and the non-profit sector and the universities.
Remember that the biggest movements in history didn’t start at the top. They started at the grassroots level.
This is no different.
We should work in two directions – from the top down, and from the bottom up.
One day, those two approaches will meet in the middle.
When I ran for Governor in 2003, I told the people it was possible to protect the environment and pump up the economy. I told them we will reduce CO2 and increase jobs. Some tried to dismiss this by saying, “Arnold is just saying these things to get elected. He is really just a right-wing Republican who drives around in gas-guzzling Hummers.”
They couldn’t believe I wanted to protect the enviorment. By the way, my Hummers run on hydrogen and biofuel.
But after I got elected, I told people, “There is no right or left. There is only forward.” And we did move forward.
Despite the warnings of the naysayers, our policies – from the tailpipe emissions reductions to the Million Solar Roofs to our historic climate change law, AB 32 – didn’t lead to a new recession. Not at all. In fact, it was just the opposite.
Today, the brightest spot in California’s economy is our green sector. One-third of U.S. clean tech venture capital flows into California. One in every four solar jobs in the U.S. is in California. A recent report showed that California’s solar industry has doubled over the past five years. California generates more solar power than either France or China.
Green is booming in California. We have wind farms, electric cars, hybrid tug boats, hydrogen locomotives, you name it. A California company called Solazyme is now supplying algae-based fuels to United/Continental Airlines and the U.S Navy.
Our green sector has grown 10 times faster than any other sector since 2005.
A 2009 report from the University of Massachusetts found that clean-energy investments generate more than three times as many U.S. jobs as fossil fuel investments.
I like to brag about our green industry because it is a good reminder that this isn’t just about climate change. It’s about creating jobs. It’s about our health, because we know that pollution related illnesses claim 100,000 lives in the United States a year.
It’s about national security, because our oil addiction forces us to rely on certain dictators who might decide to cut off our energy supply if they wake up on the wrong side of the bed.
It’s also about our investment strategy as a nation. Do we want to keep throwing money outside our borders, into the past? Or do we want to invest in technologies that create the jobs of the future right here in America? Do we want to keep pumping our money into energy below the ground, or do we want to embrace the future with the energy above the ground?
It is time for a level playing field for renewable energy and fossil fuels. Let’s treat our energy sources equally and not pick winners. Now, I don’t want to demonize fossil fuels. America got to be where it is today in large part because of those energy sources.
All I propose – and I am speaking to Congress and to all of the candidates running for president – is that all our energy sources play by the same rules.
The United States has always invested in developing new sources of energy. From the land grants for timber and coal in the 1800s / to the tax expenditures for oil and gas in the early 20th century / to the federal investment in developing nuclear energy… Support for energy innovation has always been a critical part of the American strategy.
The tragedy is that somehow we lost our way. We lost our vision. The subsidies given to the U.S. oil and gas industries during their first 15 years of development / in the beginning of the 20th century are 5 times greater than those available to the renewable energy industry now. Why?
From 2002-2008 fossil fuels got $70 billion and renewables got $12 billion. Why?
All I want is a fair shake for green energy. There’s nothing more American than that.
Professor Nate Lewis from Cal Tech said / that more energy from the sun hits the earth in one hour than all the energy consumed on our planet in an entire year. So doesn’t it make sense to invest in that energy? All we have to do is tap into a fraction and we are home free.
When I see the innovators / entrepreneurs / and the geniuses in this room, I know we can do it. I promise to be your cheerleader and carry our message around the world. I will do everything in my power to make this happen. I won’t stop promoting green energy.
I feel as passionate about this as I did about fitness. When I was bodybuilding, I didn’t just want to win awards. I wanted to spread the message of health and fitness around the world. I was on a fitness crusade. Now, this is my crusade.
I won’t give up. I won’t rest. I will make sure that our voices drown out the naysayers. Ladies and gentlemen, you can choose the promise of the future and think big, or you can choose the regret of the status quo and think small.
We’ve made our choice. We have a vision.And we will mold that vision into reality.
Thank you for your attention, thank you for your hospitality, and thank you for this award. I’ll be back.