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CA, N.Zealand Talk Climate Partnership 05/28 09:02


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

   Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern 
spoke about the agreement at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The agreement 
doesn't commit either government to specific policies but outlines broad areas 
for cooperation.

   "We have a natural connection and I'm so pleased we've put pen to paper 
today to confirm that and continue our cooperation on one of the great 
challenges from our generation," Ardern said.

   Cars, trucks and other parts of the transportation sector are California's 
biggest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, and New Zealand's second 
largest behind agriculture, Ardern said. California is moving to ban sales of 
new gas-powered cars in the state by 2035. New Zealand wants 30% of all car 
sales to be electric by that year.

   Newsom said he expects competition to grow in the electric vehicle market, 
which Tesla currently dominates, likening it to when Netflix started facing 
competition from other streaming services. Ardern said her government will talk 
with California officials about programs that offer incentives for people to 
get rid of older, gas-guzzling cars.

   New Zealand is home to 5 million people compared to California's population 
of 39 million and has a much smaller economy. Both are experiencing the effects 
of climate change. California just recorded its driest winter on record as a 
drought grips the state. New Zealand's most recent winter, which takes place 
from June to August, was the hottest on record.

   New Zealand is heavily focused on reducing emissions from its vital 
agriculture industry. Beef and dairy dominate the nation's farming sector and 
milk products are its largest export. Worldwide, cattle are a major source of 
emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

   California is also home to a major farming industry that produces many of 
the world's fruits and vegetables. The agreement says the two governments may 
engage in joint projects to expand farming practices that build soil health, 
reduce methane emissions and boost water efficiency.

   The memorandum of cooperation was signed by Jared Blumenfeld, secretary of 
the California Environmental Protection Agency, and Jeremy Clarke-Watson, New 
Zealand's consul-general in Los Angeles.

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

   Former California Gov. Jerry Brown, also a Democrat, helped launch a 
coalition of 270 subnational governments, aimed at keeping an increase in 
emissions to below 2 degrees Celsius.

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

   Because of Ardern's high-profile role in the wake of the 2019 massacre of 51 
worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, the issue of gun control was also 
expected to come up.

   Newsom is pressuring the state Legislature to send him a package of gun 
reform bills in the wake of this week's killing of 19 children and two teachers 
at a Texas elementary school.

   Less than a month after the Christchurch shootings, New Zealand's parliament 
voted to outlaw most automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

   Newsom and Ardern did not publicly discuss gun control, though Ardern 
addressed her country's actions on the issue in response to a question about 
the "shared values" between California and New Zealand.

   "It was clear that the New Zealand public expected its politicians to find 
solutions and quickly," Ardern said. "Now are they the answer to all of our 
issues as they relate to weapons in New Zealand? No, but they were practical 
steps that we believe were necessary, and that would make a difference. And so 
we made them."

   Investigators say an 18-year-old gunman who shot and killed 10 shoppers at a 
supermarket in Buffalo, New York, targeting Black people, had researched the 
racist Christchurch shooting and also livestreamed the attack as the 
Christchurch shooter did.

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