UPDATE: Governor Newsom Receives His First Climate Report Card!

Will California Governor Newsom turn around his subpar performance on climate and show true climate leadership?

by Caroline Henderson

February 21, 2020

Just days after his State of the State address, Governor Newsom received his very first Climate Report Card, which evaluates his leadership on phasing out fossil fuels and protecting public health in California. TLDR: while Newsom has made some promising signals, he’ll need to commit to real actions in order to earn high marks.

A year into his term, California Governor Gavin Newsom is coming up short on climate leadership—in fact, he barely even mentioned the climate crisis during his State of the State Address last week. That’s why today, we’re issuing Governor Newsom his very first climate report card—and unfortunately, his marks are less than stellar:

California Governor Gavin Newsom receives his first climate report card

I joined more than a hundred activists, youth, and Californians on Wednesday, as we gathered outside the California capitol building to deliver a message: climate leadership means phasing out fossil fuels and protecting communities from harmful extraction. 

Like many California residents, I have felt the impacts of the climate crisis firsthand. During the 2018 Camp Fire, I saw people in downtown San Francisco, waiting in lines wrapped around the block, trying to buy masks when all the drug stores were sold out. I remember not wanting to take deep breaths when I was outside because the air quality had reached hazardous levels. My experience pales in comparison to the thousands of people who lost their homes to California wildfires that year— and to the communities just across the bay living near the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, CA. Their air quality is polluted year round, and their children have roughly twice the rate of asthma as their neighbors.

Climate activists rally in support of climate leadership

Last Chance Alliance activists hold a rally outside Governor Newsom’s State of the State address to highlight the environmental and public health threats posed by California’s oil industry. Activists and community members living on the frontlines of oil production held banners and chanted their demands to underscore the urgency of the climate crisis. The Alliance is comprised of more than 700 environmental, health, justice, faith, labor, community, parent, and consumer organizations.

It’s troubling that Californians simultaneously pride ourselves on standing up to Trump’s anti-environment agenda, while our state is one of the top producers of oil and gas in the country. California—and Governor Newsom—can’t be a climate leader without addressing our role in fueling the climate crisis. 

With this first report card, it’s clear that Governor Newsom has a long way to go to earn an “A” on climate. We are doubling down on our calls for real climate leadership here in California in three ways: with our California pressure team, during Fire Drill Fridays, and through the work of the 750+ organizations that make up the Last Chance Alliance.

As we build the pressure, we’ll be issuing periodic report cards that give Newsom a chance to show improvement. Join the call for climate leadership in California: urge Governor Gavin Newsom to be a climate leader and phase out fossil fuels along with a just and equitable transition that protects workers, communities, and economies. 

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Caroline Henderson

By Caroline Henderson

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

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