Arnold and Ahmadinejad in Manhattan

What a day for the Big Apple! Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in New York City today to speak at a United Nations conference of world leaders on global warming. At the same time, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in town to speak at Columbia University; he’ll address the UN General Assembly tomorrow.

Never one to miss an opportunity for a timely news release, the governor announced today he’ll be happy to sign AB 221 by Assemblyman Joel Anderson, R-La Mesa, prohibiting the state pension funds from investing in companies that do business in Iran. CalPERS, the state’s employee retirement fund, is the largest pension fund in the nation and CalSTRS, the state’s public education retirement fund, is the second largest pension fund in the nation. Both legislative chambers voted unanimously for the bill.

“California has a long history of leadership and doing what’s right with our investment portfolio,” the governor said. “Last year, I was proud to sign legislation to divest from the Sudan to take a powerful stand against genocide. I look forward to signing legislation to divest from Iran to take an equally powerful stand against terrorism.”

If you want to read a transcript of the governor’s speech at the UN, it’s after the jump…

I’ve come to feel great affection for the peoples of the world, because they’ve always been so welcoming to me, if it is as the bodybuilding champion, or as a movie star, private citizen, or as the governor of the great State of California. And you, their delegates, have also made me feel very welcome here this morning. So I want to thank you for this great honor, for having me here. I also want to thank my wife and my partner, the First Lady of California, Maria Shriver, who is here today with me. Give her a big hand, right over there she is.

I have been asked to talk to you today about what is happening in California, what are we doing about climate change. Ladies and gentlemen, something remarkable is beginning to stir, something revolutionary, something historic and transformative. Let me give you some background. California already leads the nation in information technology. We lead the nation in nanotechnology, biotechnology, and in medical technology. We generate one of every four US patents and attract almost half of all US venture capital. According to The Economist magazine, California is also home to three of the top six universities in the world, and in addition to all of this, California is the seventh largest economy in the world. Now I don’t mention these things simply to boast or brag. I mention it because California is a very powerful state, and very powerful place, and when we do something it has consequences. And here is what we’re doing.

California is mobilizing technologically, financially and politically to fight global warming change. And we’re not doing this alone. While California is leading in the US we are building on the work of the European countries who have led the way up until now and have done extraordinary work. England has already met its Kyoto goals. Germany has pioneered solar. The EU has led with its trading systems, and the list goes on and on.

But California, because of its unique position, is on the cutting edge of what is to come. And what is coming will benefit the countries and peoples represented in this chamber. Last year in California we enacted Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards that are beyond anyone else’s dreams. We enacted the world’s first Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

But do I believe that the California standards will solve global warming? Of course not. What we are doing is changing the dynamic, preparing the way, and encouraging the future. The aerospace industry built the modern economy of Southern California. The computer industry and the internet built the economy of the Silicon Valley, and now clean, green technology, along with biotech, will take California to the next level. Right now in California the brightest scientists from around the world, and the smartest venture capitalists are racing to find new energy technologies and the solution to global warming. It is a race that is fueled by billions and billions of dollars. Last year alone California received more than 1.1 billion dollars in clean tech investment, and this amount is expected to grow by 20 to 30 percent annually for the next 10 years. More venture capital is being invested in clean tech than in telecommunications. Now, I have been to those labs and research parks, I have talked to the scientists and to the venture capitalists, I have seen their ambition. And let me tell you, I would not bet against it.

So what does all of this mean for the nations in this chamber? Well, the cell phone, which started as a tool for the rich is now widespread in the developing world. The price has dropped dramatically, and therefore it can be afforded by almost everyone. And the same thing will happen with the environmental technologies. And it is the developed world’s best interest to help the poor nations finance these advancements. When it comes to the environment, the technologies are changing, the economics are changing, and the urgency is changing.

So the question today is this: Are the nations of the world ready to change? I believe that California will do great things, amazing things, but we need the world to do great things too. The time has come to stop looking back at the Kyoto Protocol. The time has come to stop looking back in blame or suspicion. The consequences of global climate change are so pressing that it doesn’t matter who was responsible of the past. What matters is who is answerable for the future, and that means all of us.

The rich nations and the poor nations have different responsibilities. But one responsibility we all have, and that is action — action, action, action. The current stalemate between the developed and the developing worlds must be broken. It is time to come together in a new international agreement that can be embraced by rich and poor nations alike. California is moving the United States beyond debate and doubt to action. So I urge this body to push its members to action also.

Ladies and gentlemen, in closing let me just say this. Do not lose hope. I do not believe that doom and gloom and disaster are the only outcomes. Humanity is smart, and nature is amazingly regenerative. I believe that we can renew the climate of this planet. I believe this 100 percent. So I pledge to you, the members of the United Nations, that we in California will work with all our heart to this end for which we all long.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.