The latest Climate Perspectives Survey by ecoAmerica has found that African Americans and Latinos express the strongest concerns about climate change, report the highest levels of personal and health impacts from climate change, and report notably higher levels of civic engagement and personal action on climate than the national average.
Experts said the MacArthur-supported survey underscores the importance of engaging Latinos and African Americans on climate as key constituencies who support and can help advance climate solutions.
Senate Minority Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has pushed for more awareness to climate change and has focused on its effects on African Americans and other minorities.
Recently, Schumer outlined the new strategy in an interview, casting it as a way to mobilize millennial voters, a key part of the Democratic constituency that the party will need to turn out to win in swing states.
With progressives pushing Democrats to embrace the Green New Deal — and Republicans ridiculing the idea as socialism — Schumer is effectively trying to turn a weakness into a strength, according to his interview with the New York Times.
His office said Schumer plans daily floor speeches attacking Republicans for inaction and a proposal for a special Senate committee focused on the issue.
And while there is virtually no chance of passing climate change legislation in a Republican-controlled Senate with President Trump in office, Schumer reportedly said he wanted legislation to run on next year — and bring to a vote in early 2021, should his party win the White House and the Senate.
“This is the first time Democrats have decided to go on offense on climate change,” Schumer told the New York Times.
Asked about a bill, though, he conceded that “it’s going to take us a little while to come up with a consensus that works.”
Schumer wants Democrats to run more aggressively in favor of climate change policies going into 2020, although he conceded in his interview with The New York Times earlier this month that the exact legislative form that will take is still up for debate.
“It’s going to take us a little while to come up with a consensus that works,” he said.
Additionally, African Americans, along with Latinos, have higher rates of “Climate awareness and concern.”
One recent study states that people of color are more likely to be exposed to air pollution – a sentiment echoed by the NAACP.
According to the NAACP’s 2012 “Coal-Blooded” study, “communities of color are more likely to breathe in polluted air. Communities of color breathe in 40 percent more polluted air than white communities across the U.S.”
In a “Fume across the Fence-Line report,” The NAACP noted that “more than 1 million African Americans live within a half-mile of existing natural gas facilities and the number is growing every year. As a result, many African American communities face an elevated risk of cancer due to air toxics emissions from natural gas development.
NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program revealed that “Race is the number one indicator for the placement of toxic facilities in the country.”
Additionally, the NAACP study found that more African Americans live near nuclear, coal, or biomass power plants than any other demographic group in the United States, more than any other demographic in the country.
The same report states “People of color have historically been relegated to living in lower, flood-prone areas that are also vulnerable to flooding during extreme weather events and to sea level rise.”
Schumer said he’ll continue to lead efforts toward better conditions.
“I’m going to keep fighting until Congress and America take strong, serious action,” the senator tweeted this week.