Human communication

California governor abruptly skips UN climate conference

SACRAMENTO, California. – California Governor Gavin Newsom said unspecified “family obligations” were responsible for his abrupt decision to cancel a trip to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland next week.

Newsom will participate virtually while Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, a fellow Democrat, heads the California delegation to Glasgow, it was announced on Friday.

Newsom’s wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom has also canceled her trip.

Kounalakis told The Associated Press she spoke to Newsom on Thursday and felt she might be invited to attend the conference.

“The governor has a young family and we should all be understanding, especially those of us who have been there,” said Kounalakis, who has two grown sons.

Newsom has four children, aged 5 to 12. Governor’s spokeswoman Erin Mellon declined to provide details on what prompted the change in plans.

Newsom spoke passionately about the need to take decisive action on climate change issues. He proposed a ban on the sale of all new gasoline-powered cars in California by 2035, a ban on all oil drilling by 2045, and a ban on the sale of gasoline lawn equipment by 2035. 2024 or whenever state regulators determine it is feasible.

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“He likes this problem, he cares about it a lot. It’s a big deal for him, and I’m sure he desperately wanted to go, ”said Democratic State Senator Bob Hertzberg, who is attending the conference.

But “at some point, even though we want to be out there in politics, you’re a human being,” Hertzberg said. “You have to take care of your family.”

The delegation will include State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and over a dozen lawmakers as well as key members of the administration.

It would have been Newsom’s most important international trip as governor of the country’s most populous state and provided him with a global platform to highlight his environmental agenda.

Last month, Newsom easily pushed back a Republican-backed recall election to remove him. He’s a big favorite to win a second term next year, which under California law would be his last.

The trip cancellation is unlikely to hurt her politically and, in fact, attending it could have been detrimental, said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, professor of public policy communications at the University of California, South.

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“The outlook for her leaving the country, assuming there was something going on that needed her attention at home, would be totally negative,” she said.

“He will not be able to make contacts and network, but he will be visible,” she added. “As long as there is Zoom, as long as there is a virtual face-to-face means of communication, I don’t think it will come off the radar screen.”

Senior administration officials planning to attend include Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot, Environmental Protection Secretary Jared Blumenfeld, California Air Resources Board Chairman Liane Randolph, Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross and Senior Climate Advisor Lauren Sanchez.


Associated Press reporter Don Thompson contributed.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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