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May 16, 2024

Governor Newsom joins Pope Francis at the Vatican, calls for climate action

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Governor Gavin Newsom spoke at the Vatican Climate Summit highlighting California’s climate leadership and called for greater global partnership, and urged world leaders to protect democracy against the rise of extremism and in the face of climate deniers.

Fossil fuel companies have been deceiving us. They’ve known the science. They’ve denied the science. They’ve delayed advancement. But we have the capacity to address this issue at a global level and we all must bring the moral authority that is needed and that this time demands.

Governor Gavin Newsom

The refusal to act quickly to protect the most vulnerable who are exposed to climate change caused by human activity is a serious offense and a grave violation of human rights…. An orderly progress is being held back by the greedy pursuit of short-term gains by polluting industries and by the spread of disinformation, which generates confusion and obstructs collective efforts for a change in course.

Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY – At the Vatican Climate Summit, Governor Newsom spoke before other governors, mayors and civic and faith leaders from around the globe, highlighting California’s nation-leading efforts on clean energy and calling out the propaganda and lies from Big Oil.

While in Vatican City, the Governor and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom had an audience with Pope Francis. His Holiness acknowledged California’s leadership on the climate crisis and the state’s moratorium on the death penalty while the Governor thanked the Pope for his advocacy on climate. The Pope, Governor Newsom, and other leaders signed a Planetary Compact aimed at accelerating global efforts to combat the climate crisis and build climate resilience.

Governor Newsom spoke before other governors, mayors and civic and faith leaders from around the globe at the Vatican Climate Summit
Governor Newsom meeting with others at the Vatican Climate Summit
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The Governor’s address to the Vatican Climate Summit focused on climate resilience in the Golden State and made the case for taking urgent action on the climate crisis – just as California has in recent years. The Governor also called for defending democracy as one of the essential tools for combating climate change.

While at the Summit, the Governor spoke with mayors, governors and indigenous leaders who are all committed to tackling the climate crisis. Following the Summit on Thursday, Governor Newsom met with the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella.

The Governor and President Mattarella discussed the challenges states and countries face in addressing the climate crisis particularly during times of geopolitical instability. The President noted California’s global leadership and emphasized the importance of acting with urgency to combat the climate crisis.

WHY IT MATTERS: With half the world’s population poised to elect their leaders amid a backdrop of escalating political extremism, the stakes couldn’t be higher for our climate future. The climate crisis transcends every border and boundary, and does not recognize partisan lines. Regardless of the world’s political future, extreme weather will continue to threaten lives. California is leading the charge to build bridges around the world to ensure decisive action against the climate crisis.

Below are the Governor’s full remarks, as delivered at the Vatican Climate Summit. Watch the Governor’s remarks here.

My name is Gavin Newsom, I come from a state you may have heard of – California [in] the United States. The most diverse state in the most diverse democracy in the world.

California is a state of dreamers, of doers, of entrepreneurs, of innovators. At our best, we pride ourselves on being on the leading and cutting edge of new ideas.

We’re a state where 27% of its population is foreign born. A majority minority state. A state that’s proud to have been the home state of the founding papers of the United Nations. We’re a pluralistic state that practices pluralism.

And we’re a state that at our best — not always — but at our best, we believe the world, in many respects, looks to us to see that it’s possible to live together and advance together across many imaginable differences.

And that – that absolutely is the case when it comes to the issue of addressing the crisis of our time in climate change.

I’m here with humility and respect and appreciation to the work each and every one of you do in your respective jurisdictions. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share a little bit about the journey of California – its history, its proud past, its relationship to the moment and the work together we’re doing to advance a brighter future.

I’m proud of California’s leadership that dates back to the late 1960s. It was interesting, someone you may have heard of by the name of Ronald Reagan. Governor at the time, Ronald Reagan, that established the first environmental regulations in the United States of substance: regulating tailpipe emissions. Exactly for the reason the mayor was just advancing to address the issue of smog, air pollution in the city of Los Angeles.

1967 marks a moment of consciousness as it relates to affordification of sorts of the modern environmental movement in the United States of America.

Just three years later, interestingly, another Republican leader in the context of American politics, by the name of Richard Nixon – President Richard Nixon, through the Clean Air Act, codified California’s authority and allowed California to maintain its leadership where it allowed us to punch above our weight in terms of advancing our low-carbon, green growth future.

That has carried over the course of generations. In the 70s, California led on energy efficiency in appliances. California led in the 70s on the first tax incentives around solar.

California continues to lead in a myriad of different areas. But we recognize, despite that leadership, the acuity of the crisis at hand. The hots are getting a lot hotter, the dries are getting a lot drier, the wets are getting a lot wetter.

The extremes – not just extremes in mother nature, as the Mayor was referencing — the extremes in our politics as well. And it marks the moment, in many respects, we’re in. How do we together address those extremes?

It’s not lost on me, there’s a wonderful old African proverb, that says if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.

Our consciousness in the context of addressing this crisis is the framework of partnerships. Advancing partnerships. An open hand, not a closed fist.

And we are beginning anew to advance with vigor partnerships at the subnational level all around the globe. We’re part of an MOU – MOU under 2, many of you are associated with, now 270 jurisdictions around the world. Subnational jurisdictions representing 50% of the planet’s GDP.

In the United States, we’re part of an alliance of bipartisan governors – 24 – that represent over 50% of American population with the US Climate Alliance, that allows us to maintain our leadership regardless of what happens at the federal level.

And if there’s anything I want to impress upon you, is the stability of California’s relationship to the issue of changing the way we produce and consume energy and the issue of environmental stewardship. Regardless of what happens at the national level, we are a trusted and stable partner.

And I say that mindful that we are, from an economic output, the fifth largest economy in the world. Just behind Japan and Germany, slightly ahead of India.

I say that not to impress you, but to impress upon you, how proud I am to represent a state that is able to assert itself from an economic paradigm, but at the same time assert its values of not just growth, but the spirit of this conference, inclusion, of equity.

California has led in many areas — and one area in particular — our cap-and-trade program. $11 billion of completed programs since, sister, the 2014 convening – 76% of the investments have gone back into low-income communities. We write equity into the laws. We write equity and inclusion into the work we do each and every day.

But we’re also writing in this moment a deeper level of consciousness, and that is calling this climate crisis what it is: the climate crisis is a fossil fuel crisis. The climate crisis is a fossil fuel crisis. It’s because the burning of coal, the burning of gas, and the burning of oil.

And with respect and, forgive me, if this comes off a little too harsh. It’s been said and I’ll repeat it: the polluted heart of the climate crisis are these fossil fuel companies that have been lying to us. They’ve been deceiving us. They’ve known the science. They’ve denied the science. They’ve delayed advancement.

We have the tools, we have the technology, we have the capacity to address this issue at a global level, a scaled level and they’ve been fighting every single advancement. And we have got to call that out.

And in peril of further alienating some, I have to call this out as well. I don’t want to talk in the paradigm of a political conscience – I mentioned two Republicans, but let me mention one other.

Former President Donald Trump, who just last week, I never thought I’d see this. I’ve heard it, but I’ve never seen it. Donald Trump, just last week, had oil executives convening, talking about his election. And he openly asked them for $1 billion to roll back the environmental progress of the Biden Administration, the environmental progress that we’ve made over the course of the last half century. Open corruption.

A billion dollars to pollute our states, to pollute our country, and to pollute this planet and to rollback progress in the open.

This is the moment we’re living in, and it calls for clarity. And it calls for understanding of what we’re up against.

And so I’m very proud of living in a state that is pushing back against that agenda to roll back progress – frankly, to roll back a lot of the progress of the last century across a spectrum of issues, not just environmental stewardship, and to assert ourselves and stand tall. Again, in the principle of partnership.

And I’ll close on this. I’m very proud as well, and I think this is important, that California is exceeding its audacious goal-setting. And I want this to be said because I think it’s important to promote the progress, to also promote optimism as it relates to this issue, as we deal with so many of these challenges.

In every single instance, California has exceeded its nation-leading environmental goals.

I’m reminded there was someone very familiar to the Vatican by the name of Michelangelo, who once said the biggest risk in life is not that we aim too high and miss it – it’s that we aim too low and reach it.

We have got to maintain our stretch goals. And California has done that across the spectrum. Goal-setting is no longer the issue in my state. It’s about the great implementation. It’s about the application.

We’re in the “how” business, and it’s about the power of emulation, proving that we can run the fifth largest economy, its economic engine, as we change the way we produce and consume energy.

And let me give you a proof point as I conclude my remarks. I come here today, day 32. 32 straight days – over one month — where California’s economy is literally being run with 100% clean energy. 100%, 32 days straight.

Proving the paradigm that this can be done. In every case, exceeding our nation-leading goals.

So it’s in that spirit again, with grace and humility – we’re hardly perfect, I’m mindful of that, across a spectrum of issues that I look forward to working collaboratively with each and every one of you, being inspired by the work you’re doing at a local level.

There’s an old adage, if you don’t like the way the world looks when you’re standing up, stand on your head and go local. Because remarkable things are happening, as the Mayor said, at the local level. Localism is determinative.

And we think about climate, we think about greenhouse gas emissions. It’s the sum total of all those emissions that happen on a local basis, that is what we need to confront.

And so, again, with gratitude, with graciousness, with appreciation to His Holiness, to each and every one of you for your faith and devotion to this cause.

We look forward to maintaining our position of leadership. And we look forward to all of us bringing into our positions of formal authority, the moral authority that is needed and demands of this time.

Thank you very, very much.

Governor Gavin Newsom