Schwarzenegger says pandemic 'opportunity' for climate


Vienna (AFP)

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday said the coronavirus crisis was a "tremendous opportunity" to rebuild devastated economies with clean energy.

Speaking virtually at a climate summit that his non-profit organisation holds annually in Austria, the Hollywood star said the pandemic, which has killed almost a million people and caused massive economic downturns worldwide, was "a window of opportunity to act right now".

"Forward-looking decisions are needed right now, right now as trillions of dollars and trillions of euros are being poured into rebuilding economies and infrastructure in the wake of the coronavirus," he said on screen, speaking from a podium surrounded by plants.

"These funds are so massive they are capable of remaking societies. We have a tremendous opportunity here."

Schwarzenegger said money should be invested into building "a clean energy economy", providing "sustainable jobs" and upgrading buildings to make them more energy efficient.

Schwarzenegger had intended to travel to his birth country Austria for the summit but cancelled his trip following the advice of doctors -- cheering on participants instead from an office with a poster of himself in younger days as a body-builder in the background.

Among other speakers at the Austrian World Summit, which was launched four years ago, were Austrian, Slovakian and Croatian leaders, as well as European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans and other international public figures.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen vowed Wednesday in her first annual State of the European Union address that Europe would lead the global search for a coronavirus vaccine while rebuilding its shattered economy with a green recovery plan.