When It Comes to Climate Concern, African-Americans Are Way Ahead
Our research has consistently found that people of color are more aware of climate change and more supportive of solutions than the rest of the public. A recent survey by Green for All and the Natural Resources Defense Council echoed those findings – their poll found that 63 percent of African American voters are strongly in favor of the Clean Power Plan, vs. 27 percent of the general voter population. 63 percent of African Americans also believe climate change is a very serious problem, compared to 46 percent of white voters. (Learn more in the article below.)
One likely reason for this is that communities of color (African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian American) tend to experience climate impacts more personally and directly. A large majority of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. Childhood asthma has vastly increased among black children in recent years. These communities know action is needed now to protect their loved ones and improve their quality of life.
This may be why African Americans aren’t buying into a targeted misinformation campaign by the National Black Chamber of Commerce that claims the Clean Power Plan will raise electricity bills. (The NBCC has strong financial ties to fossil fuel companies.) In fact, a majority of African Americans believe the plan will reduce their energy costs, and an even larger majority feel that expanding renewable energy will create new jobs.
Despite their support of climate solutions and the fact that they are more vulnerable to climate impacts, people of color are underrepresented in the climate movement. It’s vital for us to reach out to these communities, ensure their voices are heard, and encourage them to take action.
By Anna Fahey, director of strategic communication for the Sightline Institute
It’s the same old song and dance. Whenever and wherever a climate policy solution is proposed, the fossil fuel industry and its allies and front groups target people of color and low-income families with scary messages about energy costs.
They have been singing the same tune to rural communities and working class families in Washington and Oregon. It’s constant background music for vulnerable communities in California as oil companies attempt to undercut and villainize AB32, a policy that put the kibosh on their free lunch while investing in efficiency, clean energy, transit, and support for frontline communities. And the lyrics have been the same when they target African-American and Latino communities in response to Obama Administration climate and energy policies, including the Clean Power Plan.
But I ask you: since when has Big Oil been a credible voice for black and Latino and low-income Americans?
That’s right: since never.
Image credit: Green Kozi via Creative Commons