VIDEOS: Latina Leaders Discuss Climate and 2020 Election
Washington D.C. – Today, in a series of videos, three elected officials and advocates highlighted the disproportionate impact climate change has on Latinos in the United States and the communities’ importance in the 2020 election.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Florida State Representative Cindy Polo, and Former School Board Trustee Candace Valenzuela shared how climate change is affecting their communities and their lives, and urged bold climate action from candidates and elected officials seeking support from the United States’ diverse Latino communities.
“All our communities, but especially minority communities, deserve their right to clean air, clean environment, to a sustainable ability to live,” said Hidalgo. “We’re doing a lot in Harris County for our community, but we need all the help we can get.”
“We are faced with a crisis, a climate crisis…..The most important thing you can do in this country is vote. I know that us as Latinos, have a lot of different concerns, but we are a powerful group,” said Polo. “A group that still has not realized the power that we can have when we are unified. That’s why I ask you, show your power. Use your voice. Use your vote.”
“As a North Texas mother, I’ve had to put both my boys as infants on frequent breathing treatments because North Texas leads the country in childhood asthma. I know how high the stakes are for the wellbeing of our children,” said Valenzuela. “Your zip code should not determine your ability to breathe, should not determine your ability to have potable water, should not determine your ability to live.”
Hidalgo, Polo, Candace have made climate justice a centerpiece of their advocacy and tenure in public office – pushing for new laws, regulations, and practices that not only address the climate crisis but take into account the decades-long harm done to communities of color and the elected officials who protect Big Oil and polluters who prioritize profit over people.
Actively engaging Latinos on climate issues is smart politics for candidates up-and-down the ballot this year. In 2020, with 32 million individuals eligible to vote, Latinos will be the second-largest voting bloc in the election, marking the first time Latinos will be the largest minority group making up the American electorate.
It is also a community that strongly cares about climate action and factors in a candidates’ climate agenda when deciding whom to vote for. A July Climate Power 2020 poll found that a broad majority of Latinos believe in the importance of leaving a better world for future generations and an overwhelming 77 percent of Latino voters support strong messages of action to combat the climate crisis.
This strong support for climate action is built because Latinos are already living with the devastating and deadly impacts of the climate crisis. Latino children face disproportionate exposures to air pollutants, pesticides, and toxic industrial chemicals, all of which contribute to higher rates of asthma, lead and mercury poisoning, behavioral and developmental disorders, and certain cancers. Across the country, Latinos of all ages are subjected to polluted air and drinking water. One study found that, on average, Hispanics are forced to live with a pollution burden as they are exposed to 63%, more pollution than they create.
Latinos are 51 percent more likely to live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone than non-Hispanic whites. Moreover, 55 percent of Latinos live in three states that are already experiencing serious effects related to climate change: historic drought and fires in California, record-breaking heat in Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and increased sea-level rise and flooding in Florida.