California Gov. Gavin Newson suddenly pulled out of his trip on Friday to the annual United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in Scotland.
The Democratic leader cited “family obligations,” though he did no elaborate on those obligations.
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Newsom will still participate in the gathering virtually, according to spokesperson Erin Mellon.
Newsom, who had only recently decided to attend the conference, has four children, ages 5 to 12.
“The governor has a young family, and we should all be understanding, especially those of us who have been there,” Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis told The Associated Press. Kounalakis, who has two grown sons, was asked to lead California’s delegation in Glasgow.
Other Newsom administration officials will still travel to Scotland as well, in addition to at least a half dozen other liberal state governors.
Newsom, who handily defeated a number of conservative competitors in a September recall election, has been outspoken on issues related to climate change and its impact on Californians. The state has long been a leader on climate and the environment.
Newsom has put forth several ambitious plans related to combatting climate change, including a ban on all oil drilling by 2045, outlawing the sale of gas-powered lawn equipment by 2024 — or whenever state regulators determine that is feasible — and a ban on the sale of all new gas-powered cars by 2035.
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He is up for reelection in 2022.
Crippling drought and record-breaking temperatures linked to climate change have made the West’s wildfires harder to fight, and scientists say climate change will continue to make conditions more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive in coming years.
In a UN report released in August, climate experts warned that the Earth is getting so hot that temperatures in about a decade will probably blow past a level of warming that world leaders have sought to prevent, calling it a “code red for humanity.”
Over the past 60 years, the Earth has been warmed by 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit due to the impact of human-caused climate change.
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Greenhouse gas concentrations hit a new record high last year and increased at a faster rate than the annual average for the last decade, the World Meteorological Organization said in a report.
And the U.N. calculated this week that, between now and 2030, the world will spew up to 31 billion U.S. tons of greenhouse gases beyond the amount that would keep the planet at or below the most stringent limit set in the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Environmental activists, lawmakers and scientists say that the Oct. 31-to-Nov. 12 conference – the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference, also known as “COP26” – marks a critical opportunity for concrete commitments to the targets first sought in Paris.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.