California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during the “Vote No” recall campaign in San Francisco, California, United States on Tuesday, September 7, 2021.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
California voters will decide to remove Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom in the September 14 recall election. Although Newsom has taken only moderate steps to tackle climate change, this could be replaced by a rollback on green policies such as the phase-out of fracking and gasoline vehicles, and efforts to reduce fuel costs. greenhouse gas emissions. There will be national implications.
There are 46 contenders vying to oust Newsom. Many of the 24 Republican candidates want to support the state’s ambitious plans to tackle climate change and the clean energy transition.
Newsom will be removed from office if more than 50% of voters want to recall him. The governor is increasingly likely to stay in his seat, with polls in recent weeks showing voters are in favor of keeping him in office.
Conservative radio host Larry Elder, a supporter of former President Donald Trump who constantly disseminated climate disinformation, became the clear leader when Newsom is defeated.
Elder said he wanted to “stop the war on oil and gas” and argued that “global warming alarmism is a pitcher.” He has repeatedly denied the role of climate change in worsening the California wildfire season, instead accusing Blaise of a lack of forest management.
In an interview with ABC News at the Caldor Fire Zone in Northern California, Newsom hit back at Elder’s comments on the climate, saying, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about on the issue of climate and change. climate. “
Another prominent candidate, GOP businessman John Cox, argued that the kingdom should produce more natural gas and become “the Saudi Arabia of the West” and argued that climate regulations have increased costs in the kingdom.
“Amid wildfires, stale air and drought, our state is in an almost permanent state of emergency,” said Victoria Rome, director of government affairs for California at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We have no time to waste with an anti-science governor.”
Republican gubernatorial recall candidate Larry Elder campaigns against incumbent California governor Gavin Newsom in the California gubernatorial recall election on September 2, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Mike Blake | Reuters
What can the new governor do
A new governor is unlikely to eliminate any major climate legislation in California, especially given the Democratic state legislature and the governor’s re-election in 2022. Yet much of California’s climate policy is carried out through executive decree and administrative action, both of which the new governor can change or cancel.
“While a new governor would not be able to launch a legislative attack on California climate policy, he would be able to slow down, redirect and even reverse the implementation of California climate policy,” said William Boyd, professor at the Institute of the UCLA. Arts. will be able. “Environment and sustainability.
“At least we will be looking at a year of potentially dramatic changes in the scale and pace of implementation, leading to litigation and dead ends until the next election,” Boyd said. “Given the rapidly escalating climate crisis, losing a year or more is not something we can afford.”
California, the world’s fifth-largest economy, has implemented some of the most aggressive plans to shift from fossil fuel production to clean energy. Most of the required laws have been around for years.
The plans include an order for the state’s Air Resources Board to cut emissions by 40% by the end of the decade, requiring utilities to get all their energy from clean sources by 2045 and requiring all trucks sold in the state. Zero emissions by 2045.
As California grapples with wildfires, water shortages and a historic drought, Newsom faces increasing pressure to act more aggressively on climate change.
The governor signed decrees calling for all new cars to be electric by 2035 and banning new hydraulic fracturing permits by 2024. The Newsom administration recently passed a building code to replace new buildings with fossil fuels for clean energy sources. Additionally, California last year became the first state to protect 30% of land and coastal waters by 2030.
Steve Weisman, director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment, said that while Newsom has been a governor “staying the course” on climate change, there is an “old-style Republican ” in office . The number of conservative judges opposed to major climate policy may be on the rise.
“If this leads to a potential re-election, the impact on California’s climate and environmental policy would be devastating and potentially irreversible,” Weisman said.
“It could slow down climate policy across the country and around the world,” he continued. “It’s hard to overestimate the damage it causes.
A sign reading “No water equals lost jobs” on a farm during a drought in Firebag, Calif. On Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
In addition to withdrawing Newsom’s orders on issues such as clean vehicles, oil and gas conservation and production, a new governor could also withdraw from interstate agreements, such as a fifteen-state bipartisan memorandum that targets achieve net zero emissions. Committed to. Sales of new trucks and buses by mid-century.
A new governor can also appoint new leaders in organizations that advance climate initiatives, as well as block or reduce funding for conservation or clean energy projects.
Richard Frank, professor of environmental law at UC Davis, said a new governor hostile to current climate initiatives could ‘starve’ some key implementing agencies and appoint members who work to reduce gas emissions Greenhouse effect. are not dedicated to.
“This could have a significant impact on the downturn if aggressive climate change mitigation policies are not reversed,” Frank said.