Jan 18, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Climate change hits home for Latinos

Illustration of a hand holding up an Earth above rising water.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Latinos in the fight against climate change will gather this week during a virtual summit highlighting the community’s growing environmental activism.

The big picture: Climate change and pollution have outsized impacts on communities of color in the U.S.

  • Unsafe water is more common and studies show people of color are more vulnerable to wildfires and environmental disasters fueled by climate change.
  • A newly released Harvard study found majority Hispanic, Black and Asian neighborhoods across the country are consistently exposed to higher levels of pollution particles.
  • Climate change and pollutant exposure also cause greater displacement, wealth loss and long term health issues for people of color.

By the numbers: 81% of Latinos in the U.S. consider addressing global climate change a priority, compared to 67% of non-Hispanics, according to a Pew Research Center poll.

  • Environmental groups like Climate Power are making greater efforts to engage Latinos.

Between the lines: The climate crisis is hitting Latinos’ wallets as well.

  • They are overrepresented as workers in industries impacted by extreme weather, like agriculture and construction, according to an EPA study.
  • They’re also 43% more likely to live in areas that will see the most reduction in work hours because of extreme temperatures.

What they're saying: “When we surveyed and polled Latinos, we found that Latinos are very concerned about their children, their children’s health, the future of their children. And climate change is going to be the biggest disrupter of their children’s lives and their grandchildren’s lives,” GreenLatinos founding president and CEO Mark Magaña told Axios.

  • GreenLatinos is the host of this week’s summit, which includes Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg as speakers.

Don’t forget: The consequences of global warming have driven migration from Latin America and the Caribbean to the U.S.

  • People have lost their livelihoods and been forced to leave home after hurricanes, heat waves and drought.
  • The UN warned last year that climate change will deepen socio-economic inequalities in Latin America, which are already among the worst in the world.

Go deeper: Climate change is at the forefront for Latinos

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