KATOWICE • Governments must protect citizens from the killer effects of climate change, movie tough guy-turned-statesman Arnold Schwarzenegger told Agence France-Presse, insisting that the United States was committed to a greener future despite President Donald Trump reneging on the Paris Agreement.
In an interview on the sidelines of the United Nations climate summit in Poland this week, the Terminator actor said he was on an "environmental crusade" and urged everyone to join in the climate fight.
Mr Schwarzenegger added a sprinkle of stardust to Monday's opening session of the COP24 climate talks in Poland, where nations must agree on a rulebook to limit the rise of global temperatures, and the devastating economic and health impacts that global warming will bring.
"I think governments' responsibility is to protect people. That's why we have armies to avoid an attack. Well, here is the biggest attack," he said. "Seven million people die every year because of (air) pollution... If we don't want to fight that, then there is something wrong with us."
In his two terms as California governor between 2003 and 2011, Mr Schwarzenegger helped shape America's richest state into a green powerhouse. He signed legislation giving local and state officials the tools to bring down greenhouse gas emissions by reducing urban sprawl and promoting renewable energy and green technology.
The 71-year-old said the US was committed to act on climate change regardless of Mr Trump's controversial decision to take the world's richest country out of the Paris accord.
"Just because Donald Trump dropped out of the Paris Agreement, it doesn't mean that America has dropped out," he said. "All of our states that were always environmentally friendly are still going in the same direction... America is in and our crazy leader is not, so be it."
Mr Schwarzenegger said the idea that fossil fuel-dependent economies would suffer as they transition to renewables was a fallacy. "Green technology creates a huge amount of jobs and the reality is that we don't have to choose between one and the other. You can protect the environment and protect the economy at the same time," he said.
The Advanced Energy Economy Institute said California employed more than half a million people in green energy in 2016 - several times the number of US coal workers nationally.