The two spoke about climate change, a cause dear to the Pontiff.
The Hollywood actor, bodybuilder, and former governor of California, best known for his role in the Terminator franchise, met with the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide on Wednesday.
Pope Francis was having his weekly General Audience with the public when Arnold Schwarzenegger, a two-time Governor of California, stepped up to meet His Holiness. The Pope had during his address spoken about the courage displayed by biblical figure Judith, even when there seemed no way out of the predicament the Jewish people found themselves in. He encouraged people to never give up, even in the face of adversity.
Schwarzenegger, himself a Catholic, thanked the Servant of the servants of God, for his role in highlighting the issue of climate change. In 2015, the Vicar of Jesus Christ had written about the destruction of the environment in his encyclical Laudato Si (“On Care For Our Common Home”), addressed to the Catholic faithful. Christiana Figueres, then the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, had said that it would have a major impact, praising the Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province as someone who was committed to the cause more than any of his predecessors.Schwarzenegger pointed out to Pope Francis at their meeting that millions die every year as a result of pollution.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has been committed to the cause of climate change for a long time. As governor, one of his acts was to sign the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 into law. This effectively set a cap on emissions and was the nation’s first law of its kind. He subsequently signed another law that made it illegal to enter into contracts with those who did not meet the California’s emission norms. Both these laws aim to bring down the level of emissions by 25% below what existed in the 1990s – and this is on schedule to happen by 2020. As part of his longer-term policy, he also signed an executive order that seeks to reduce emissions to 80% below 1990s-levels, all by 2050.
He has argued for more carbon credits (these are financial incentives paid to those who successfully lower their carbon emissions). Personally, he has installed solar panels on the roof of his home and owns three Hummers that run on non-conventional energy sources – hydrogen, biodiesel and vegetable oil respectively. His latest automobile acquisition is an all-electric 2017 Mercedes G-Class.
Schwarzenegger currently heads the R20 – Regions of Climate Action, a non-profit organization that helps regional governments do their bit for the environment.