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Gavin Newsom accuses Trump of ‘open corruption’ during his Vatican speech on climate change

Gov. Gavin Newsom accused former President Donald Trump of “overt corruption” in a speech Thursday at a climate summit of Catholic officials and international leaders, highlighting his criticism of the Republican leader in the hallowed halls of the Vatican.

The California governor referenced news stories claiming that Trump had recently solicited campaign donations from oil executives and pledged at the same event to roll back climate protections if he were elected in the 2024 presidential election.

“He openly asked them for $1 billion to roll back the environmental progress of the Biden administration, the environmental progress that we’ve made over the last half century,” Newsom said. “Overt corruption. A billion dollars to pollute our states, to pollute our country, and to pollute this planet and reverse progress.”

The governor was speaking at a three-day summit “From Climate Crisis to Climate Resilience,” organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Newsom’s actions and comments are likely to elevate his position as a climate leader on the world stage, and his speech drew applause from the international gathering of governors, mayors and policy experts.

As temperatures and CO2 emissions rise worldwide, the goal of the conference is for local and state governments to share best practices on combating climate change and adapting to higher temperatures, rising sea levels and a more volatile environment.

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Newsom’s speech also echoed the thrust of a critique of the oil industry he delivered last fall at the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit in New York.

“It comes from the burning of gas, the burning of coal, the burning of oil,” Newsom said at the Vatican. “We have the resources. We have the technology. We have the ability to tackle the problem on a global scale and they have fought against any progress and we must challenge that.”

Bob Salladay, Newsom’s chief communications adviser, said his candid assessment earlier in New York about the industry, which he said was fooling everyone, caught the attention of the Vatican and is one of the reasons he was invited to speak at the climate summit. .

Read more: Climate change is central to both Pope Francis and Newsom. But do Catholic voters care?

The setting of his speech, in a carpeted auditorium in the Vatican that usually hosts meetings of bishops, was a stark contrast to the marble floors and Renaissance murals lining Clementine Hall, where Newsom spoke with Pope Francis Thursday morning.

In an address to government leaders and climate scientists at Clementine Hall, Pope Francis called the destruction of the environment an insult against God.

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“This is the question: Are we working for a culture of life or for a culture of death?” said Pope Francis.

Newsom and his wife, first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsomsat in the second row of the audience in an Apostolic Palace near St. Peter’s Basilica.

A pope’s body is placed in the hall for private visits after his death. It is also the same room that former President Obama visited in 2009.

Pope Francis called the refusal to protect the most vulnerable exposed to climate change caused by human activities a “serious violation of human rights.”

He said about 1 billion people in wealthier countries “produce more than half of the world’s heat-trapping pollutants.” Poorer people, he said, contribute less than 10% and suffer 75% of the resulting damage.

Pope Francis thanked the participants for their efforts to move towards climate resilience through equality and social justice.

Read more: Newsom says the stakes can’t be higher than a speech at the Vatican climate summit

After the speech, Newsom and Siebel Newsom walked along an aisle lined with ornate stone tiles to the front of the room, where the governor spoke briefly with the pope. The governor said Pope Francis praised his government’s work on the death penalty.

Newsom issued a moratorium on the death penalty in 2019 and closed execution chambers in California.

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A procession of attendees also greeted the Pope, who took time to shake hands with everyone in the room.

The pope signed a planetary pact at the end of his speech, which Newsom and other government leaders also signed on Thursday.

Wade Crowfoot, California’s Secretary of Natural Resources, described the pact as an unprecedented agreement among international governors, mayors, indigenous leaders and scientists to work together to confront climate change, with an emphasis on resilience and equity.

Crowfoot and Lauren Sanchez, Newsom’s top climate adviser, also participated in hours-long meetings at the conference on Wednesday and spoke on a panel with other U.S. state officials.

Newsom is hosting a state climate summit in Southern California this fall in a continuation of work at the Vatican conference. The state will invite local leaders and experts from California.

“We are taking the torch of subnational leadership back to California, where it belongs, to convene scientists, local governments and leaders to address the climate threat that is the existential crisis of our time,” Sanchez said.

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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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