• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Climate and the California Recall

Air Date: Week of

Gavin Newsom has been governor of California since 2019 and has pushed for environmental policies such as signing a 2020 executive order to phase out sales of gasoline-powered vehicles and require all new passenger vehicles sold in the state to be zero-emission by 2035. (Photo: Gage Skidmore, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

The upcoming recall election for California Governor Gavin Newsom, who is aggressively pursuing climate action, could result in a climate change-denying candidate becoming Governor. Co-hosts Jenni Doering and Aynsley O’Neill talk about how the unusual rules for California recall elections could impact climate policy in the state and beyond.


DOERING: And Aynsley, while judges decide these climate questions on a federal level, voters in California are deciding the future for Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, and by proxy, the future for climate policy in the Golden State.

O’NEILL: Oh, what’s going on there?

DOERING: Well, Governor Newsom, who’s aggressively pursuing climate action, is facing a recall election on September 14th, partly over the pandemic restrictions he’s put in place. Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 in the state but because of its unusual rules for recalls, the GOP sees this as the best chance for ousting a Democratic governor.That’s how Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger went “Total Recall” on Governor Gray Davis in 2003 to become “The Governator”.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected during the 2003 gubernatorial recall of Governor Gray Davis. The Republican governor passed legislation focused on addressing climate change like AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, making California the first state in the nation to cap greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo: Thomas Hawk, Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0)

O’NEILL: Haha, wait, what kind of strange rules does California have that gave rise to the Governator?

DOERING: Well, the ballot asks two questions: First, should Governor Newsom be recalled, yes or no? A simple majority will decide his fate. And so far, polls put the Governor with a slim lead, but it’s within the margin of error, so it’s close.

O’NEILL: Ok, that doesn’t seem too odd so far.

DOERING: No, but here’s the thing: if he should lose, the second question asks voters to pick his successor and there are 46 candidates on the ballot. Of them, whoever gets the most votes would become the next Governor of California, even someone who earns just a few percent.

O’NEILL: Ah ha… well, what do we know about the climate records for the candidates who are leading in the polls?

DOERING: Well, frontrunner Larry Elder, a Republican, has called the climate crisis “a crock”. Also polling well is moderate Democrat Kevin Paffrath, a real estate agent who supports expanding solar and wind. There’s also John Cox, a Republican businessman who says climate change is real, but not necessarily all bad, especially for agriculture.

Larry Elder is a conservative talk radio host who has called climate change a “crock”. He’s one of the top contenders for the 2021 California recall elections, according to polling as of August 25, 2021. (Photo: Gage Skidmore, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

O’NEILL: Plenty of scientists would disagree with that, of course. And Governor Newsom, in contrast, has taken some big steps to address the climate crisis, right?

DOERING: Yeah, he put 14 billion dollars towards climate initiatives in the latest state budget, far more than many states, and he’s steering California towards an end to gas car sales by 2035. And, those investments can have a huge impact. If it were an independent nation California would have the world’s fifth largest economy. So, what happens in California on these issues can ripple beyond the state. And regardless of the outcome, some will see this as a referendum on climate. Whatever happens in this race, we’ll be sure cover it after the election on September 14th.

O’NEILL: Sounds good, thanks Jenni.



E&E News “Newsom loss would test Calif. climate policies”

The Washington Post “How California’s Gavin Newsom could lose his job to a Republican in a recall”


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth