Schwarzenegger Tells ‘Spiritual’ Climate Change Meeting: ‘This Is Bigger Than Any Movie’

Patrick Goodenough | July 22, 2015 | 4:47am EDT
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Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (AP Photo, File)

( – As momentum builds for what climate change advocacy groups are billing as the most important U.N. mega-conference on the subject ever, religious leaders, artists and scholars met in the French capital Tuesday to discuss climate change “from a spiritual perspective.”

Among those participating in the one-day “Summit of Conscience for the Climate” were former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Irish President Michael Higgins, Catholic Cardinal Peter Turkson of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I.

“I’ve starred, of course, in a lot of science-fiction movies as you know, and let me tell you something, climate change is not science-fiction,” Schwarzenegger said in a recorded message for the meeting. “This is a battle in the real world. It is impacting us right now.”

Citing statistics on carbon emissions, air pollution, flooding, storms, drought and wildfires, he added, “This is bigger than any movie. This is the challenge of our time.”

Built around the tagline “Why do I care?” the Summit of Conscience for the Climate aims to get religious leaders to mobilize their flocks behind the climate change campaign.

Tuesday’s event, an initiative of President Francois Hollande’s climate change envoy Nicolas Hulot, aims to inspire leaders and people around the world to organize similar events at home.

It is only a mobilization of conscience on a global scale that will enable humanity to meet this great challenge confronting us: how to limit global warming by taking real action, including reducing our consumption of fossil fuels,” says the campaign website.

“Time is short. This is not only a political economic or ecological issue. It is the future of humanity that is at stake. Each of us is called to respond now to the questions: is it important to me that the adventure of mankind on Earth can continue? Am I ready to change my lifestyle today so that the children of our children come into this world in tolerable conditions?”

Schwarzenegger spoke of the need for a movement of spiritual leaders to “win over the people’s minds, and their hearts.”

He challenged participants to “go home to your congregations, to your churches, to your mosques, to your temples and your followers, and inspire them to fight for clean energy future.”

“We must do everything that we can to communicate better, and to preach, and to inspire people to join our crusade.”

Higgins, the Irish president, called for a rejection of climate change skepticism, declaring that “there can be no compromise with truth.”

“We must begin with an acceptance of the evidence of science. It is now clear that failure to respond to the scientific reality of climate change may ultimately lead to the destruction of life on our planet,” he said.

“We must therefore unequivocally reject the position of those who would obscure the scientific reality of climate change in their protection of any narrow and short-term self-interest.”

Hollande is due to host a U.N. climate summit from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 that is meant to deliver a new global agreement for the post-2020 period, on reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases and mitigating climate change.

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