State of Play: Bold Climate Action is Good Politics in Arizona

TO:             Interested Parties
FROM:      Lori Lodes, Climate Power 2020
RE:             State of Play: Bold Climate Action is Good Politics in Arizona

Arizonans are already living with the dangerous consequences of the climate crisis and many voters in Arizona are strongly motivated by the climate issue, and in an election that will be decided by narrow margins, bold climate action is smart politics.

Put simply: the politics of climate have changed.

This will be put in sharp contrast as President Trump is in Arizona today to tout his racist and failed immigration policies (but not act on the deadly heatwave hurting the state). Showcasing the importance of climate and racial justice, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez is set to address the Democratic National Convention this evening.

Below is helpful information about the state of the climate crisis in Arizona, as well as recent polling showing how important a candidates’ climate vote will be to key voting blocs in the state that will be hotly contested by both the Biden and Trump campaigns. 

Arizona is already living with the consequences of the climate crisis. 

  • The extreme heat is killing people and it’s projected to increase, with heatwave days more than tripling by 2050. In Maricopa County alone, 182 people died from extreme heat in 2018. Maricopa County has broken records for the number of people killed by extreme heat three years in a row.
  • Climate change-driven droughts are killing Arizonans and hurting the economy. Since 2012, Arizona has witnessed five drought events that caused a total of $22.1 billion in damages and 176 deaths.
  • Almost half of Latinos live in areas with severe air pollution and it’s making them sick. Nearly 50 percent of Latinos in Arizona live in a county that frequently violates ozone safety standards, furthering the already unequal health consequences faced by communities of color. Poor air quality is associated with an increase in asthma and other chronic lung conditions, especially among children.

The Trump administration has gutted safeguards that protect our air, water, and land and keep Arizonans safe.

  • Trump’s anti-climate agenda killed more than a million jobs as the economy was reeling from his mishandling of the COVID crisis. Trump’s failed COVID response and war on clean energy cost the U.S. more than 1.1 million good-paying clean energy jobs, including nearly 8,000 in Arizona.
  • Trump silenced communities of color by slashing a bedrock environmental law that gave them a say in protecting their neighborhoods from pollution. Trumpgutted the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which guaranteed communities had a say before pipelines and other polluting projects were built in their neighborhoods. Thanks to NEPA, courts slowed the expansion of coal mining on Navajo land in Arizona.
  • Trump cut clean air protections during the pandemic when pollution-related illnesses exacerbate the severity of the illness. Trump signed an executive order weakening the Clean Air Act and limiting future pollution controls in June.
  • While green lighting pollution that accelerates climate change, Trump also gutted our emergency preparedness capabilities. Trump recently raided $44 billion from disaster relief funding during the pandemic, yet another blow to FEMA. Trump also slashed half FEMA’s budget by half in just one year, cutting it from $12.3 billion in 2018 to $5.3 billion in 2019.

The majority of Arizonans are concerned about the climate crisis and want leaders to take bold action now.  

  • The majority of Arizonans believe leaders at every level of government should be doing more to address the climate crisis. According to research by Yale University, nearly 60 percent of Arizonans believe the President and Congress should do more to address climate change.
  • Voters want climate action to be a priority. A recent poll from Data for Progress shows 62 percent of voters in Arizona and other key battleground states believe that climate change should be a priority, with a plurality of 41 percent saying it should be a Day 1 priority.
  • Calling out Trump’s failed climate record turns key demographics of voters against Trump and increases their likelihood of voting. Critiquing Trump’s record on climate increases his disapproval among GOP-leaning persuadable voters, and increases motivation to vote by younger voters by 12 percentage points and Hispanic voters by 9 percentage points, according to a March 2020 poll from Climate Power 2020.
  • The majority of Latinos in Arizona want bold action to combat the climate crisis. Seventy-three percent of Latino voters in Arizona said it was very or extremely important that the next President and new Congress take steps to pass legislation to aggressively combat the climate crisis, with fifty-four percent of likely voters saying this is extremely important.
  • The majority of Latinos have felt the impact of climate change.  More than 60 percent of Latino voters in Arizona said they have experienced the impacts of climate change in the past 5 years.
  • Nearly 3 in 4 voters want to eliminate fossil fuels in favor of a clean economy. According to a June 2020 Yale, Climate Nexus, and George Mason poll, more than 70 percent of voters support legislation to achieve a 100 percent clean economy by eliminating fossil fuels.
  • Voters, even moderate Republicans, are far less likely to vote for presidential candidates who oppose climate action. An April Yale Program on Climate Change Communication survey found that voters are 55 percent less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who opposes taking action on climate –liberal/moderate Republicans are 35 percentage points less likely to vote for a candidate opposing action.