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

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

Floridians are already living with the dangerous consequences of the climate crisis and many voters in Florida 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. 

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

  • Hurricanes are killing Floridians and taking a steep economic toll. In the past decade, Florida has experienced 5 hurricanes, totaling $93.7 billion in damages and 258 deaths.
  • Rising sea levels threaten millions of Floridians and their properties. Currently, 3.5 million Floridians are at risk of coastal flooding and by 2050, an additional 1.1 million people are projected to be at risk of coastal flooding due to sea-level rise.
  • Latinos are more at risk of flooding in Florida. Hispanics make up about 40 percent of the population in the 8 Florida cities, including Miami, which almost certainly always flood during high tides.

The Trump administration has gutted safeguards that protect our air, water, and land and keep Floridians 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 27,000 in Florida.
  • 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 Floridians are concerned about the climate crisis and want leaders to take bold action now.  

  • The majority of Floridians believe leaders at every level of government should be doing more to address the climate crisis. According to research by Yale University, 60 percent of Floridians believe the President and Congress should do more to address climate change.
  • Latinos in Florida live with the effects of climate change every day. Sixty-three percent of Latino voters in Florida said they have experienced the impacts of climate change in the past 5 years.
  • Latinos in Florida want leadership in climate change. Seventy-three percent of Latinos in Florida said it was very or extremely important that the next President and new Congress take steps to pass legislation to aggressively combat global warming or climate change.
  • 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.