California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined NYC Climate Week Wednesday to urge leaders to take action against climate change, arguing the extreme weather plaguing the U.S. is a non-partisan issue.
“People don't understand what climate change may be. They may not understand climate science, but they sure as hell understand their own eyes,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a panel at NYC Climate Week.
California’s Death Valley hit 125 degrees in early September, the same week that almost 1000 heat records were broken across the U.S.
“When the thermometer says 125, that's not a Democratic thermometer or a Republican device, it’s reality,” he said.
Democrats prioritize combatting climate change significantly more than their Republican counterparts. Some 51 percent of Democrats or Democratic-leaning adults in the U.S. consider combatting climate change to be a “top concern,” according to Pew Research. The same is true of only 10 percent of Republicans or Republican-leaning adults in the U.S. But when faced with extreme weather, those numbers even out.
Americans are likely to identify climate change as a contributing factor to major wildfires, rising sea levels, storms and heatwaves, regardless of party. When up against long periods of intense heat, some 79 percent of Republicans or Republican-leaning adults felt climate change contributed a lot or a little bit, whereas about 95 percent of Democrats did. Some 87 percent of Republicans felt climate change contributed to rising sea levels and eroding shorelines, while about 96 percent of Democrats did.
Climate change has been framed as a predominantly Democratic issue, but the Infrastructure Bill and Inflation Reduction Act, both of which contained substantial climate mitigation efforts, passed with support from Republicans. And, as Newsom pointed out Wednesday, former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon introduced or protected environmental regulations -- both were Republican.
“At the time governor of the state of California, [Ronald Reagan] in 1967 decided to regulate tailpipe emissions because of the pollution down in Southern California, this smog in LA. They had had enough,” Newsom said. “Reagan came in and started to regulate, and that was codified by someone by the name of Richard Nixon. Republicans!”
Newsom’s comments followed passage of a sweeping package of climate bills in California, which he signed on Friday. The legislation seeks to expand California’s clean energy reliance, cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, and protect vulnerable communities from the pollution of oil and gas production, among other things.
Not everyone was a fan. A Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, penned by The Editorial Board, roasts Newsom for signing more climate bills even as the state struggles with its electric grid.
“California can barely keep the lights on,” the op-ed snarks. The writers say grid issues and costly electricity are the results “when politicians try to eliminate fossil fuels with a Molotov cocktail of regulation, taxes, and renewable mandates and subsidies.”
Newsom took a moment to clap back at what he said sounded like it was “written by the fossil fuel industry.”
“We won. They lost. We passed the most aggressive rules and regulations -- not ambitions -- of any jurisdiction, anywhere in the world. Big Oil lost and they're not used to losing,” Newsom said Wednesday.