Gov. Gavin Newsom abruptly canceled his plans on Friday to lead a California delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland next week, citing “family obligations” for why he is stepping down.
Newsom had been preparing for the trip to Glasgow for several weeks, saying California is an example to the world that a state can commit to tackling global warming while remaining economically prosperous.
No further details were provided. Newsom had planned to attend the conference with his wife, documentary filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
“Due to family obligations, Governor Newsom will no longer attend the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) and instead participate virtually, focusing on California’s historic climate change policies Newsom spokesperson Erin Mellon said in a statement. Friday morning.
Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis will attend the conference in place of Newsom, his office said.
The governor was expected to lead a delegation of state lawmakers and environmental leaders to “make the case that the state needs national and international partners to join with us and commit to protecting our future,” according to an earlier statement published by the Newsom administration.
Newsom was to focus on California’s plans to phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered automobiles by 2035 and the state’s economic transition away from fossil fuels. On Tuesday, Newsom was due to join heads of state and representatives of major automakers to discuss the role of the growing electric vehicle market in tackling the effects of climate change.
“No other US state comes close to our leadership in this space,” Newsom told reporters Wednesday at a press conference in Oakland.
Long a national leader on progressive environmental issues, California is striving to achieve economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2045. Newsom last year called for a ban on the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles in the state by 2035.
In April, Newsom took action to ban new hydraulic fracturing permits from 2024, putting an end to the controversial method of extracting oil that has been the target of environmental activists for years.
And last week, the Newsom administration decided to ban new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools and healthcare facilities.
“We don’t see oil in our future,” Newsom said during the announcement.