Governor Newsom: here’s how we’re grading your climate leadership

Will Governor Newsom earn an A on climate? We’ve made him his very own Climate Progress Report Card, in order to judge his actions on climate

by Caroline Henderson

February 6, 2020

Despite its reputation for climate action, California continues to be a major oil and gas producer. Here's how we'll be grading Governor Newsom on his climate leadership until the end of 2020.

Thousands of nodding donkey pumps on the Kern River Oilfield just outside Bakersfield, California, one of the largest in the USA.

Alamy Stock Photo

This week’s disastrous State of the Union showed us what climate leadership does not look like — full of empty promises and false solutions. But here in the state of California, we have the opportunity to demonstrate true climate leadership. In order to get there, we need Governor Gavin Newsom to take swift action. That’s why today, we’re providing him with his very own Climate Progress Report Card, a rubric by which we can judge his actions on climate.

Why California? Californians are already experiencing the impacts of climate crisis through droughts, wildfires, and health issues for those living near oil drilling sites. Despite its reputation for climate action, California continues to be a major oil and gas producer. It should be obvious that we can’t fight climate change and expand fossil fuel production at the same time. We need a leader who is willing to boldly call out the architects of the climate crisis, and who will put people before polluters.

California has taken the lead in the U.S. by enacting strong policies to reduce demand for fossil fuels and challenging President Trump’s rollback of environmental protections. But more action is needed. Governor Newsom has the responsibility to ensure a managed decline of fossil fuel production and avoid the worst consequences of climate change while protecting public health and the most vulnerable Californians. In doing so, Newsom can send a political signal to other leaders about what is possible and necessary — both in the US and globally.

With his announcement last November, Governor Newsom took some courageous first steps on setting a goal of a managed decline of fossil fuels. Now is the moment to follow these words with an ambitious and visionary plan.

This rubric outlines the criteria on which Governor Newsom will be graded on his climate leadership until the end of 2020 — halfway through his term as Governor.

Our rubric is based on the demands of the Last Chance Alliance—a coalition of 750 environmental, health, justice, faith, labor, community, parent, and consumer organizations.

We believe Newsom can be a climate leader, and this is what he needs to do to get there:

  1. STOP new fossil fuel projects: Lead by issuing no new permits for oil and gas extraction, fossil fuel infrastructure, or petrochemical projects in California.
  2. DROP existing production: Set a national and global precedent by becoming the first oil- producing state to announce a phase-out of existing production in line with the Paris climate goals, with a just and equitable transition that protects workers, communities, and economies.
  3. ROLL out a public health buffer: Begin by first phasing out oil production in places that are suffering most from the impacts of fossil fuel extraction—by creating a 2500-foot health and safety buffer zone between fossil-fuel infrastructure and homes, schools, and other sensitive sites.

To read the full rubric, click here. Better yet, help us demonstrate to Newsom that Californians are watching by tweeting and sharing it on Facebook.

Caroline Henderson

By Caroline Henderson

Caroline Henderson is a Senior Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace USA, based in Oakland, California.

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