California Governor Joins Pope Francis for Vatican Climate Summit

California Governor Joins Pope Francis for Vatican Climate Summit

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks before other governors, mayors and civic and faith leaders from around the globe at the Vatican Climate Summit on May 16, 2024. (Office of Governor Gavin Newsom)

Travis Gillmore
Travis Gillmore

5/17/2024

Updated: 5/21/2024

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After signing international agreements with several foreign nations and local governments over the past year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Pope Francis signed another at the Vatican Climate Summit May 16.
Called a “Planetary Compact,” the recent agreement commits signees to climate resilience and equity.
The agreement came during a three-day summit titled “From Climate Crisis to Climate Resilience” hosted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom meets with attendees of the Vatican Climate Summit on May 16, 2024. (Office of Governor Gavin Newsom)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom meets with attendees of the Vatican Climate Summit on May 16, 2024. (Office of Governor Gavin Newsom)

The event brought together leaders from around the world and other governors of U.S. states, including Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul—to focus on climate change, biodiversity loss, and global inequality, according to a May 15 Vatican News statement.
The goal of the summit was to implement a plan to mitigate climate risks, adapt strategies to cope with risks, and transform society to better adapt to future changes.
During the event, Mr. Newsom called out companies for what he said are deceptive policies contributing to climate issues.
“Fossil fuel companies have been deceiving us. They’ve known the science,” Mr. Newsom said. “They’ve denied the science. They’ve delayed advancement.”
The governor suggested that more needs to be done to curb emissions and improve energy technologies to move toward a more sustainable future.
“We have the capacity to address this issue at a global level, and we all must bring the moral authority that is needed and that this time demands,” Mr. Newsom said. “I’m reminded there was someone very familiar to the Vatican by the name of Michelangelo, who once said the biggest risk in life is not that we aim too high and miss it—it’s that we aim too low and reach it.”
The leader of the Roman Catholic church agreed and said prioritizing profits over the environment is detrimental.
“The refusal to act quickly to protect the most vulnerable who are exposed to climate change caused by human activity is a serious offense and a grave violation of human rights,” Pope Francis said at the gathering. “An orderly progress is being held back by the greedy pursuit of short-term gains by polluting industries and by the spread of disinformation, which generates confusion and obstructs collective efforts for a change in course.”
After the summit, Mr. Newsom met with the Italian President Sergio Mattarella. The pair discussed challenges related to climate issues and geopolitical stability, according to a statement issued by the governor’s office on May 16.
He later met with the leader of the Emiglia-Rogana region of Italy, President Stefano Bonaccini, to sign a memorandum of understanding between the two governments.
The document includes a three-year agreement to advance clean transportation, develop solutions, improve agriculture, transition to clean energy, and protect air quality and biodiversity, among other things, according to a May 17 statement.
“In an increasingly hotter and drier world, the partnership we’re forming today will accelerate efforts to protect communities across the world—all while harnessing the innovative spirit necessary to move away from fossil fuels,” Mr. Newsom said at the gathering.
The governor’s wife expressed gratitude to the pope and Italian leaders for their willingness to partner with California.
“The Pope’s leadership and voice on climate change are a reminder to global leaders of the moral obligation to address the crisis head-on,” Jennifer Siebel Newsom said in the May 17 statement. “California has and will continue to lead with partners like Emilia-Romagna because we can’t do it alone, especially as vulnerable communities continue to bear the brunt of climate-related disasters.”
Mr. Bonaccini thanked the governor for the opportunity to collaborate and said the agreement will prove mutually beneficial.
“Today is a historic day for Emilia-Romagna,” he said. “This agreement with the government of the State of California, the fifth largest economy in the world, further strengthens the international dimension of our region, confirming our commitment to develop and share common policies with the most advanced territories in the world on key issues such as combating climate change, ecological transition and environmental protection.”
Delegates from California and China's Hainan Province sign an international climate agreement in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 3, 2023. (Courtesy of Office of Governor Gavin Newsom)

Delegates from California and China's Hainan Province sign an international climate agreement in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 3, 2023. (Courtesy of Office of Governor Gavin Newsom)

The agreement follows similar ones signed with the Gyeonggi Province of South Korea earlier this month, Sweden and Norway earlier this year, several local governments in China last year, and prior collaborative efforts with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and the Netherlands, among others.
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Travis Gillmore is an avid reader and journalism connoisseur based in California covering finance, politics, the State Capitol, and breaking news for The Epoch Times.

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