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

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

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

This was clear as the climate crisis and the need for bold action took center stage at the Democratic National Convention last night with more than 20 people raising the topic during primetime. Tonight, the program will even further elevate climate with a conversation among youth climate activists and a segment exploring Biden’s clean energy plan.

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

  • Extreme heat is on the rise. Colorado currently averages 10 extreme heat days annually – that number is projected to jump to almost 80 days by 2050.
  • More than 3.5 million people live in 11 Colorado counties that experience unhealthy air. Trump’s close relationship with the coal industry has resulted in looser rules for dumping toxic coal ash, which contains chemicals linked to cancer and other health impacts.
    • Coal ash is stored in sites at risk of spilling into nearby rivers and lakes under flood conditions.
    • Groundwater monitoring at seven coal power plants in Colorado revealed excess levels of pollutants such as arsenic and selenium.
    • Latino farmers in Colorado face growing challenges under this new reality.

The Trump administration has gutted safeguards that protect our air, water, and land and keep Coloradoans 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 the war on clean energy cost the U.S. more than 1.1 million good-paying clean energy jobs, including nearly 6,000 in Colorado.
  • Trump silenced communities of color by slashing a bedrock environmental law that gave them a say in protecting their neighborhoods from pollution. Trump gutted the National Environmental Policy Act, which guaranteed communities had a say before pipelines and other polluting projects were built in their neighborhoods.
  • 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 Coloradans are concerned about the climate crisis and want leaders to take bold action now.  

  • The majority of Coloradans believe leaders at every level of government should be doing more to address the climate crisis. According to research by Yale University, roughly 60 percent of Coloradans believe the President and Congress should do more to address climate change.
  • Latinos in Colorado want Day 1 action. Ninety-one percent want the next President and new Congress to pass a bill to combat climate change.
  • Latinos treasure the protection of public lands. More than 70 percent want Congress to protect national public lands instead of allowing more drilling and mining.
  • Latinos prioritize reducing carbon pollution. In Colorado, 77 percent support candidates who want to reduce dangerous carbon pollution and invest in a clean energy economy.
  • 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.
  • 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.