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Newsom, New Zealand's Ardern discuss climate change, gun control in SF

New Zealand prime minister meets with Gov. Newsom in S.F.
New Zealand prime minister meets with Gov. Newsom in S.F. 02:32

SAN FRANCISCO -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern focused on climate change during their San Francisco summit Friday, but the two leaders also touched on gun control.

Standing next to a tree native to New Zealand at Golden Gate Park's Botanical Garden, Newsom joined forces with Ardern to share climate change solutions. 

"Here in California, it is indeed existential. The wildfires that we've experienced among the most devastating that we have ever seen anywhere around the globe," said Newsom. 

"No longer is this something we're talking about in the future. It is here and it is now," agreed Ardern. 

The agreement included sharing of data and ideas, as well as expanding electric vehicle infrastructure to the island nation. 

Prime Minister Ardern has been in the U.S. giving the graduation keynote address at Harvard and speaking on democracy, gun control and disinformation and the link disinformation online plays in gun violence. It's a link Ardern knows all too well following the 2019 massacre at a mosque in Christchurch that killed 31 people. 

"The royal commission that followed found that the terrorist responsible was radicalized online. In the aftermath of New Zealand's experience, we felt a sense of responsibility. We knew we needed significant gun reform, and so that is what we did. But we also knew that if we wanted genuine solutions to the issue of violent extremism online, it would take government, civil society and the tech companies themselves to change the landscape. The result was the Christchurch Call to Action," said Ardern during her Harvard speech. 

The government in New Zealand banned all military style semi-automatic weapons following the shooting and bought back more than 50,000 from residents. 

"We were confronted with a horrific event on the 15th of March several years ago and it was clear that the New Zealand public expected their politicians to find solutions and quickly. Now, are they the answers to all of our issues with weapons in New Zealand? No. But they were practical steps that we believed were necessary and would make a difference, so we made them," she said Friday. 

Governor Newsom praised Prime Minister Ardern for the actions. 

"For me, this is also an opportunity to say thank you for your leadership because that inspires me, the work we do every single day," Newsom said. 

After Friday's stop in San Francisco, Prime Minister Ardern is heading to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Joe Biden. 

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