California and New Zealand announce climate change partnership

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Top officials in California and New Zealand signed a pledge Friday to help fight climate change by sharing ideas and best practices, including how to put millions of electric vehicles on the road.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke about the agreement in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The agreement does not require any government to implement specific policies, but outlines broad areas for cooperation.

“We have a natural connection, and I’m delighted that we’ve confirmed that today with pen and paper, and continue to collaborate on one of the great challenges facing our generation,” Ardern said.

Ardern said cars, trucks and the rest of the transportation sector were the largest contributors to California’s greenhouse gas emissions and New Zealand’s second-largest source after agriculture. California is moving to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles in the state by 2035. New Zealand hopes that by that year, 30 per cent of all car sales will be electric.

Newsom said he expects competition in the electric vehicle market, which Tesla currently dominates, to intensify, likening it to Netflix starting to face competition from other streaming services.

New Zealand has a population of 5 million compared to California’s 39 million and has a much smaller economy. Ardern said her administration will discuss plans with California officials to encourage people to retire older, gas-guzzling cars.

New Zealand is very focused on reducing emissions from its important agricultural sector.

California is also home to a major agricultural industry, producing many of the world’s fruits and vegetables. The two governments may undertake joint projects to expand farming practices to promote soil health, reduce methane emissions and improve water use efficiency, the agreement said.

The memorandum of cooperation was signed by California Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Jared Blumenfeld and New Zealand’s Consul General in Los Angeles, Jeremy Clark Watson.

California already has climate-focused agreements with many other countries, including China, Canada and Mexico.

Former California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, helped create a coalition of 270 local governments aimed at keeping emissions growth below 2 degrees Celsius.

At last year’s global climate change conference in Scotland, California signed a brief joint statement with New Zealand and the Canadian province of Quebec to share information on climate policy, including carbon markets.

Gun control issues are also expected to arise due to Ardern’s high-profile role following the massacre of 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques in 2019.

Newsom is pressuring the state legislature to send him a gun reform package following the killing of 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school this week.

Less than a month after the Christchurch shooting, New Zealand’s parliament voted to ban most automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

Newsom and Ardern have not discussed gun control publicly, though Ardern touched on her country’s actions on the issue in response to a question about “shared values” between California and New Zealand.

“It’s clear that the New Zealand public expects its politicians to find a solution quickly,” Ardern said. “Are they now the answer to all of our questions about weapons in New Zealand? No, but they are practical steps that we think are necessary and that will make a difference. So we made them.”

An 18-year-old gunman who shot and killed 10 black shoppers at a Buffalo, New York supermarket has studied racist shootings in Christchurch and, like the Christchurch shooter, said investigators say The attack was broadcast live.

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