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

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

From a record hurricane season and rising sea levels to extreme heat, Georgians are already living with the dangerous consequences of the climate crisis — putting climate at the forefront of the 2020 election. Americans in battleground states like Georgia are living with the consequences of the climate crisis, which is why voters here are actively looking for solutions from candidates up-and-down the ballot.

As Stacey Abrams is set to address the Democratic National Convention Monday evening, below is helpful information about the state of the climate crisis in Georgia, 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.

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

  • Hurricanes are killing Georgians and taking a steep economic toll. In the past decade, Georgia has experienced 5 hurricanes, totaling $115 billion in damages and 258 deaths.
  • Georgia’s drinking water is among the least safe in the nation, according to a 2017 report, but Trump has blocked action to make polluters pay for cleaning up toxic chemicals that have been found in water supplies across the state.
  • People of color in Georgia are more at risk of pollution-related health issues. Latinos and Black Americans in Georgia are exposed to 63 percent more particulate air pollution than non-Hispanic whites. Fine particulate air pollution exposure has been called the largest environmental health risk factor in the United States.

The Trump administration has gutted safeguards that protect our air, water, and land and keep Georgians 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 more than 27,000 in Georgia.
  • Trump silenced communities of color by gutting 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 Georgians are concerned about the climate crisis and want leaders to take bold action now.  

  • The majority of Georgians 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 Georgians believe the President and Congress should do more to address climate change.
  • Young voters of color in Georgia care about climate change and want significant action from elected leaders when they think about the future.
  • Black and Latino voters want bold action in climate change. A poll conducted by Climate Power 2020 found that 93% of both African American and Latino respondents agree that“We should make significant investments in clean energy as part of our efforts to rebuild the economy.”  Another poll conducted by Climate Power 2020 found that an overwhelming 77 percent of Latino voters support a message of bold climate action to fight the climate crisis. This message also boosts Vice President Biden’s margin of victory with Latinos by 4 points.
  • 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 100percent 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.