PARIS — Hollywood legend Arnold Schwarzenegger has gone from being the “Terminator” to the “Innovator,” France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Saturday, praising him for his work to prevent climate change. The actor turned politician was presiding over a climate change conference of the world’s regions in Paris on Friday and Saturday in the run-up to a crunch global summit on the problem in the city in 2015. The two-time governor of California — who introduced the first cap on greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. — founded the R20 Regions of Climate Action as an environmental counterweight to the G-20 in 2010, to push for a sustainable low carbon economy. “We know him as the Terminator but it is pretty rare that a Terminator can be at the same time an innovator and a ‘visionator,’” Fabius said after meeting the actor, whose most famous role was as “The Terminator” in the 1984 action film of the same name. Schwarzenegger met French President Francois Hollande on Friday and discussed next year’s Paris summit of world leaders which aims to limit global warming.
“Climate change is not science fiction … it’s the challenge of our times,” Schwarzenegger said afterwards. He insisted that given the progress made on energy efficiency in California, it was not a question of “choosing between the economy and ecology.” He said that as governor of the state he had to “fight a very big battle” against lobbies of every kind as well as climate change skeptics. To “do nothing will cost us” and “we cannot wait on the state or an international agreement to act,” he added. A “Declaration of Paris” was to be signed by the regions taking part in the conference Saturday, pledging them to join the fight against global warming. Schwarzenegger hopes to persuade 1,000 regions to sign up by the time of next year’s summit. Aid for poorer countries most affected by climate change has become a thorny issue in negotiations. According to Fabius, the international fund set up to help them so far only contains US$2.3 billion (1.8 billion euros), almost all of it given by France and Germany, when “between US$10 and US$15 billion is needed by the end of the year,” he said.