Governor Newsom Holds Virtual Discussion with Leading Climate Scientists on State’s Progress Toward Carbon Neutrality 

Amid wildfire, drought and extreme heat exacerbated by climate change impacts, Governor Newsom meets with scientists and climate change experts

Governor directs state agencies to examine how the state can accelerate progress toward climate targets

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today hosted a virtual meeting with internationally renowned scientists and climate change experts to discuss California’s ambitious climate goals, efforts to protect communities from harmful pollution and climate impacts, and how to accelerate the state’s transition to carbon neutrality.

To meet the urgency of the climate crisis, Governor Newsom has requested the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) to accelerate California’s progress toward its nation-leading climate goals. At the Governor’s request, CARB will evaluate pathways for the state to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035 – in advance of the 2045 target – including strategies to reduce fossil fuel demand and supply. The CPUC will work to establish a more ambitious greenhouse gas emissions target for electricity procurement by 2030, stepping up the state’s pace in achieving zero carbon electricity. Earlier this year, the Governor requested CARB analyze pathways to phase out all oil extraction, focusing on benefits in disadvantaged communities and opportunities for job creation and economic growth.

“In California, we’re not asserting our leadership – we’ve proven it. We’ve set audacious goals and actually figured out the how, exceeding our targets on renewables ahead of schedule while outperforming the nation in GDP growth over a five-year period,” said Governor Newsom. “In this spirit, I want to maintain that leadership across the spectrum and I want to accelerate it, because we don’t have time to delay.”

The Governor was today joined by Dr. Ram Ramanathan who serves as Distinguished Professor at the University of California, San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Professor Marilyn N. Raphael, Director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and a Professor in the Department of Geography at UCLA; and Professor Noah Diffenbaugh, a Kara J. Foundation Professor and Kimmelman Family Senior Fellow at Stanford University. The wide-ranging discussion touched on topics including climate change trends, efforts to build resiliency to protect communities from extreme weather events like catastrophic wildfires and advancements in clean technology.

“California has always led the U.S. and, I would also say, the world,” said Professor Raphael. “Not everyone is going to come along at the same time, but people will eventually come because the technology…the scalability, will be there. That it is difficult is a given, but I think it’s doable. We have brilliant minds in this state, we have to find them and put them to work.”

“Responding to the moving target of climate change is a fundamental challenge individually and collectively,” said Professor Diffenbaugh. “California has been a real example of integrating, in real-time, our best understanding into decision-making, and I think the last drought was an example of that and we’re still seeing that right up to today.”

California’s climate policies and programs have cut carbon emissions, created jobs and catalyzed innovation. California’s approach to solving the climate crisis builds on a long history of environmental protection and innovation that can only happen here, in California, where the future happens first.

California has exceeded our 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target – four years ahead of schedule – while growing our economy 26 percent. California was the first state in the nation to implement a phase-out plan to end the sales of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035, implemented a carbon neutrality commitment no later than 2045, and took decisive action to entirely phase out fracking and oil extraction.

Governor Newsom’s California Comeback Plan outlines a $3.675 billion climate resilience package over three years to address the state’s multi-faceted climate risks, including preparing for extreme heat, sea level rise and addressing environmental justice priorities. Governor Newsom’s Plan also advances a $3.9 billion investment over three years to hit fast forward on California’s Zero Emission Vehicle goals, demonstrating what is possible with sustained focus and creating substantial health and economic benefits, including jobs, for Californians along the way.