“I don’t at all feel that we are leading the world anymore.”
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon delivered that stark assessment of California’s efforts to combat climate change in a Monday phone call from the United Nations conference in Scotland — turning on its head Gov. Gavin Newsom’s view that California is taking “action that is unprecedented in both nature and scale” by phasing out oil production and the sale of gas-powered cars.
The Lakewood Democrat rattled off examples of other cities and countries outperforming California: Paris is “ahead of us” on dealing with extreme heat, the German state of Baden-Württemberg is “certainly ahead of where we are” on transportation, and there are “various governments in India that have more aggressive goals than we have.”
Indeed, Rendon depicted California as a state that is pursuing outdated solutions to the climate crisis. “This is not a matter of ego,” he told me. “This is a matter of these folks having aggressive goals that are consistent with where we know the climate crisis is. When we developed our goals a couple of years ago … they were adequate for where we thought … climate change was. Things are much worse now than we thought they were.”
In a news conference this week, California’s state Senate delegation also suggested they were learning more than leading in Glasgow. “This is the homework club,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg. “We’re taking notes and working our hearts out.”
“When we developed our goals a couple of years ago … they were adequate for where we thought … climate change was. Things are much worse now than we thought they were.”Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon
And State Sen. Bob Wieckowski of Fremont suggested that California’s landmark climate strategy — which allows companies to buy and sell pollution credits to meet an annual cap on greenhouse gas emissions — could learn a thing or two from a “better program” in Washington state that requires companies “to make actual reductions” in emissions rather than “allowing people to continue to pollute.”
The elephant (not) in the room was Gov. Gavin Newsom — whose last-minute Scotland cancellation and days-long absence from public events has resulted in tens of thousands of tweets speculating about his whereabouts and his wife telling critics in a since-deleted tweet to “stop hating and get a life.”
On Monday, the Newsom administration for the first time released a public schedule for California officials at the climate change conference — though the governor is not yet listed as a virtual participant and more than half the events have already happened.
Newsom’s office also said the governor would participate in a fireside chat at the California Economic Summit in Monterey to discuss “the state’s ongoing recovery from the pandemic and work to build a more equitable, sustainable and resilient economy.”
It was Newsom’s first official appearance since Oct. 27, when he received a booster shot of the Moderna vaccine. However, a Monday photo spread in Vogue revealed that Newsom and his wife attended a wedding ceremony in San Francisco over the weekend for Ivy Love Getty, the great-granddaughter of oil billionaire J. Paul Getty whose son Gordon was a close friend of Newsom’s father and an early investor in Newsom’s wine and hospitality company.
Newsom spokesperson Daniel Lopez said the governor did not have an adverse reaction to the booster or cancel any events because of it. He also said that Newsom did not cancel his trip to Scotland to attend the wedding, which was officiated by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.