Climate Change: Latinos Support Big Policy Changes

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People of color are exposed to more pollution from cars, trucks, and power plants than whites a new 10-year study shows. SoPeople of color are exposed to more pollution from cars, trucks, and power plants than whites a new 10-year study shows. Source: Latina Listaurce: Latina Lista
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U.S. Latinos are more supportive of climate change policies and are more willing to demand political action than non-Latinos.

In fact, half of Latinos (50%) think the United States should make large-scale effort to reduce global warming, even if it has large economic costs, compared to 33% of non-Latinos, according to a recent English and Spanish survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Salud America! continues its three-part series exploring the issue of climate change for Latinos, today addressing what kinds of policies Latinos would support to address climate change.

Part 1 tackled what climate change is, why Latinos are worried, and whether they should be. Part 3 will focus on a potential solution for both climate change and health equity.

Two Big Policy Targets

Electric power and transportation are the two largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions.

Replacing coal-fired power plants with clean, renewable energy sources, like wind or solar, and increasing energy efficiency in institutions, business, and homes can help reduce carbon emissions from electric power.

To reduce carbon emissions from transportation, cities and states can take many actions—investing in public transit, sidewalks, and bike lanes—to provide more transportation options that reduce vehicle miles traveled, even in the face of enormous population growth.

Latinos Support Climate Change Policies

About 70% of Latinos think global warming should be a high priority for the president and Congress, compared to 52% of non-Latinos, according to the recent Yale survey.

In February, 2017, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Chispa Nevada, and other groups gathered for a roundtable discussion on the future of Nevada’s public health, and clean energy economy.
Source: Chispa

Latinos also say they would support political candidates or companies depending on their global warming position:

  • Six in ten Latinos (60%) say they would probably or definitely vote for a candidate for public office because of their position on global warming, compared to 47% of non-Latinos.
  • More than one in three Latinos (35%) have rewarded companies for taking steps to reduce global warming by buying their products, compared to 28% of non-Latinos.
  • Nearly one in three Latinos (31%) say they have punished companies that are opposing steps to reduce global warming by not buying their products, compared to 22% of non-Latinos.

Regarding specific policies, 81% of Latinos support requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax, compared to 69% of non-Latinos. Also, 47% of Latinos strongly support tax rebates for people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels, compared to 38% of non-Latinos.

Latinos Ready to Take Action

Latinos don’t just say they’ll support climate policies.

They are ready to demand action. Half of Latinos (51%) say they definitely or probably would participate, or already are participating, in a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming, compared to 29% of non-Latinos.

“Within the Latino community, we find another consistent pattern: while Latinos, generally, are more engaged with the issue of global warming than are non-Latinos, Spanish-language Latinos are even more engaged than English-language Latinos,” according to the Yale report.

The one hurdle is contacting elected officials:

  • More Latinos (64%) say they don’t know which elected officials to contact than non-Latinos (55%) .
  • Fewer Latinos (55%) consider themselves activists than non-Latinos (62%).
  • More Latinos (54%) say it’s too much effort than non-Latinos (45%).

What’s Next?

Commuters in the city of San Francisco going home after a day of work. Source: iStock

So what climate change policies have the most potential benefit?

Shifting to energy-efficient or electric cars is a good step, for example, but it isn’t enough. Though electric cars will reduce transportation-sourced greenhouse gas emissions, electric cars will shift emissions to electric power-sources, particularly in cities that rely on coal-fired power plants for electricity.

Electric cars won’t reduce congestion or commute times. Electric cars won’t reduce fatalities and serious injuries from crashes. Electric cars won’t increase physical activity, thus won’t reduce risk for numerous chronic diseases.

That’s why leaders must reduce miles traveled by single-occupancy vehicles to reduce transportation-sourced carbon emissions. That has potential to simultaneously improve many of facets of health and health equity.

Be sure to check out the final part in our series on Thursday, March 1, 2018, on global warming and health equity.

By The Numbers By The Numbers

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