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Latinos Strongly Support Climate Action, Reject Tradeoff Between Environmental Protection & Economic Growth

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Recent national and state polls conducted for Earthjustice and Green Latinosshow that Latinos have an “intense commitment” to action on climate change and reject the idea that environmental protection will stifle economic growth. In addition to commissioning a national poll, the two organizations also had the views of registered Latino voters in California and Florida surveyed, finding that 81 percent and 74 percent, respectively, support climate action.  

The national poll “found that Latinos reject the false claim that there has to be a tradeoff between protecting the environment and fostering economic growth,” said Earthjustice in a news release. Rather, 59 percent of U.S. Latinos believe green energy and environmental reform will create economic opportunities and jobs. That view is held by 64 percent of Latino voters in California and 55 percent in Florida.

Other key findings:

  • U.S. Latinos see climate change as a consequence of human activity at higher percentages than do other Americans – 66 percent versus 52 percent of the general population (the latter according to a 2014 survey by Yale and George Mason Universities); and

  • Latinos care as much about environmental policies as about social policies, with 90 percent favoring a stronger Clean Water Act versus 80 percent seeking government action on immigration reform.

The national poll also showed Latino voters’ support for a range of climate-related policies, including carbon pollution standards, development of renewable energy sources and strong policies to clean up U.S. waterways and air.

Deep Concern

A memo released by Latino Decisions, the firm that conducted the three polls, observed that the national findings challenge “long-standing assumptions regarding disinterest in environmental issues among working class and communities of color.”

Instead, it found “that Latinos care deeply about the environment and specifically about its impact on their families.” The memo adds, “Latinos are as engaged, if not more so, in issues of climate and environment” and “have strong personal interests in seeing the environment improved.”

The polls also found that sizeable majorities of Latinos are willing to pay an extra $5 a month on utility bills to get electricity from clean sources such as wind and solar – 77 percent nationally, 79 percent in California and 72 percent in Florida. In fact, 75 percent of all Latinos, 69 percent of those in California and 72 percent in Florida would consider paying up to $10 more a month.

California Results

The poll results in California reflect the state’s air pollution woes and their disproportionate impact on the Latino population – the state’s largest ethnic group at 14.99 million as of July 2014.

According to polling firm Latino Decisions, which conducted the three surveys:

  • Latinos are three times more likely to die from asthma than other racial or ethnic groups;

  • Nearly half of California Latinos live in the top 25 most ozone-polluted U.S. cities; and

  • Latinos in California suffer the harms of air pollution even more acutely – they are more likely to live in areas overburdened by poor air quality and other impacts of pollution; and six of the nation’s top 20 worst cities for air pollution are in California.

These realities were reflected in the polling results, as 77 percent of California respondents said air pollution is a serious threat to their health or that of their family members.

Florida Results

Key findings of the poll of Florida’s more than four million Latinos, who comprise 25 percent of the state’s total population, included their extreme concern about the environment, which they view as equally important as immigration. The poll also found that when it comes to environmental attitudes, Florida’s Latino population is more like than different from Latinos in other states.

In addition:

  • Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of Florida Latinos are worried (somewhat to very) about climate change;

  • 76 percent of Florida’s 1.5 million registered Latino voters strongly support national clean energy standards, and 74 percent strongly support state standards;

  • 66 percent say they are already directly experiencing the effects of human-caused climate change in Florida;

  • Development of clean energy sources is among respondents’ top three environmental issues, with 81 percent support;

  • Three of respondents’ top issues overall were related to the environment; and

  • Regardless of party lines, 71 percent feel more favorably about elected officials who act on behalf of the environment.

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