California’s Ambitious Climate Leadership: A Roundtable Discussion with Lauren Sanchez, Senior Climate Advisor for Governor Newsom

In a roundtable discussion on climate leadership in the Golden State on March 22, Lauren Sanchez, Senior Climate Advisor for Governor Newsom, shared the latest insights from Sacramento on topics including natural gas resources, EV charging, environmental justice, and carbon capture. 

Given the current geopolitical situation and the governor’s priorities going forward, Newsom’s climate, energy and oil teams are working in high gear as they make progress on issues like the energy transition, supply chains, and affordability. 

“It feels like we’re really at a confluence and a critical time in history together,” she said. 

With a proposed $38 billion climate budget on the table, which is on par with what many nations are spending, the governor is prioritizing climate in his broader agenda. 

Newsom has demonstrated leadership toward clean cars and zero emission vehicles, and with a goal to end the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035, his team is now doing the hard work of crafting the implementation of this agenda, which involves improving access to ZEV’s and charging infrastructure for all Californians. 

With landmark policylike SB100 in place, which requires retail energy providers to procure 50% of their energy from renewable energy sources by 2030, Sanchez pointed out that focus is now on the successful implementation necessary to achieve the health benefits, economic benefits and job implications that these changes imply. 

“A big theme that you hear from me and from a lot of our agency partners is doing the hard work of walking the walk,” she said.

In California, rather than having to convince the public of the need for climate action, support from the public is a driving force in the governor’s climate initiatives. With only 6% of Californians saying that the governor is doing enough on climate change, public support keeps Sanchez and her team motivated for the hard work of changing the state’s energy infrastructure.

“I think being on the front lines of the climate means that it is something that is on top of mind for Californians every day,” she said. “[This] is definitely fodder for our motivation for a lot of the hard work we have to do day in and day out.”

Sanchez noted that the Biden presidency contrasts starkly with the previous term, when California led 70 different lawsuits on climate against the Trump administration. The current synergy with the White House is leading her team to focus on state coalitions where innovation and market transformation can occur. 

“We have an incredibly exciting year ahead as it relates to the scoping plan and the budget, our ZEV work and continued partnership with the Biden-Harris administration,” she said. 

Noting that she was approaching her new role with a listening ear above all, Sanchez said that her “Zoom door is always open,” and emphasized how important it was to her to stay in touch with SVLG members and hear what they had to say. 

“I hope you feel a tremendous amount of commitment from me and the governor and our whole team in partnering with you all and doing what it takes to save the planet,” she said.