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Newsom's UN address blames fossil fuel use for wildfires, droughts, floods

Under Newsom, California has announced plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035 and have a carbon-neutral energy grid by 2045.

Published: September 20, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

California Governor Gavin Newsom focused his address on blaming fossil fuel use for California’s wildfires and droughts while celebrating California’s ambitious plans to move towards a low-carbon, sustainable economy.

“If you read the newspaper or turn on your TV … you see a state not just of dreamers and doers, but you see a state that’s burning up. A state that’s choking up. A state that’s heating up with wildfires and floods and droughts,” said Newsom at the UN. “This climate crisis is a fossil fuel crisis … And we need to call that out.”

The one-day UN Climate Ambition Summit aims to “accelerate action by governments, business, finance, local authorities and civil society, and hear from ‘first movers and doers’,” aims to demonstrate “there is collective global will to accelerate the pace and scale of a just transition to a more equitable renewable-energy based, climate-resilient global economy.”

Under Newsom, California has announced plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035 and have a carbon-neutral energy grid by 2045. California’s net-zero roadmap largely relies on massively expanding renewable energy production, reducing vehicle miles traveled by 30%, and increasing home energy efficiency. Newsom’s plan does not include the creation of any new nuclear power plants.

Analysis from energy experts at the United Nations finds that nuclear energy has the lowest carbon intensity of any of its analyzed energy sources. In an essay on renewable energy archived by Congress, environmental journalist Michael Shellenberger described the vast divide between French and German energy costs and emissions to illustrate energy outcomes based on different levels of renewable energy utilization. After noting the nuclear-reliant French pay half of what the Germans, who are investing $580 billion in renewables while decommissioning the last of their nuclear plants after the start of the Russo-Ukrainian War, do for energy that is one tenth the carbon intensity, Shellenberger claimed French investments towards renewable over nuclear energy have done more environmental and economic harm than good.

“Moving from mostly nuclear electricity to a mix of nuclear and renewables results in more carbon emissions, due to using more natural gas, and higher prices, to the unreliability of solar and wind” wrote Shellenberger.

California’s climate plan would require a 68% increase in electricity consumption by 2045 due to increased electrification that state mandates require to come from renewable energy sources. It is unclear how the state will secure the funding it needs to reach this goal.

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