Gov. Gavin Newsom is announcing a new approach — and a way to pay — for the state's much-vaunted satellites.
Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by climate activist and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, pledged to spend an undisclosed sum to help the state use satellite data to track the emission of greenhouse gases. The funding will allow Planet Labs, a San Francisco-based earth-imaging company, to use its existing satellites and launch new ones to quantify emissions from all over the world and the state's progress toward its climate goals.
The partnership, which was to be unveiled Wednesday at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York, is part of what Newsom describes as his most important job in fighting climate change: ensuring that California meets the environmental targets set by his predecessors.
"There's not much ambition to ramp up," Newsom said during a panel discussion on Tuesday with other governors. "We're at 100 percent everything."
Newsom spent the early part of the week in New York to attend the United Nations Climate Summit, at which leaders from all over the world met to discuss their work to combat global warning. He loudly criticized President Donald Trump, saying his efforts would set the nation's progress back, drawing applause from foreign officials.
Newsom took advantage of the international stage to reinforce California's position as a climate leader, giving credit to Republicans and Democrats who held the office before him. During each press conference, panel and speech, Newsom reiterated a sober warning that California's road ahead won't be easy.
"Most of the what and why has been accomplished," Newsom told The Times before walking onto the floor of the UN General Assembly. "This is all about application. This is all about implementation."
Other countries are watching California's programs because of the size of the state's economy and the scope of its ambitions, said Michael Wara, director of the Climate and Energy Policy Program at Stanford University.
"We're kind of a planetary laboratory for how you have a successful, wealthy state ... and cut emissions really dramatically," Wara said. "What is the model for doing that? It's something we delivered on somewhat over the last decade, but boy, are we going to have to bend the curve."
Bloomberg said the satellite data will give California and other governments another powerful tool to fight climate change. According to the philanthropist's organization, the initiative will focus on analyzing emissions from coal plants, exploring new technology to detect methane and carbon dioxide and developing new tools toward conservation.
"Data is a powerful tool for tackling climate change, and this new partnership is a great example of what's possible when business and government work together," Bloomberg said. "Gov. Newsom and his team have been strong leaders on climate change, and this will be another way they can help America make progress — even without any help from Washington."
Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, described the satellite project as an expansion of Brown's idea, which he announced at his own Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. The state has planned to partner with Planet Labs since last year.
"I think it's grown into something bigger," Nichols said. "Newsom's sort of taken it over, and one of the things he's doing with it is making sure it is not just about methane, but we use it to gather other kinds of data about California's land and natural resources."
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