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Poll: Overwhelming Majority of Latinos Want Strong Presidential Action to Combat Climate Change

Pollsters: In Comparable Surveys on Latino Priorities, Only Immigration Reform Scored Higher Levels of Intensity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An overwhelming majority of Latinos in the U.S. want strong presidential action to curb the threat of climate change, according to new poll conducted for the Natural Resources Defense Council by Latino Decisions.

"Here's an important message for our political leaders, and it cuts across party lines: Latinos intensely support taking action on climate change and fighting air pollution," said Adrianna Quintero, senior attorney for NRDC and Founder of Voces Verdes. "Latinos in the United States recognize the threat that climate change poses to the well being of our families and the future of our community in this country and abroad, and want our leaders to solve it."

"That's why, today, Latinos are speaking up loud and clear: it's time to cut the carbon pollution that is driving climate chaos and threatening our children's future."

Indeed, the new survey showed that support for climate action among Latinos is broad and deep:

  • Nationally, nine in 10 Latinos want the government to take action against the dangers of global warming and climate change.
    • Of those, 68 percent of Republican Latinos say that it is important—including 46 percent of Republicans who say it's very or extremely important—for our government to tackle global warming and climate change.
  • Nationally, eight in 10 Latinos want President Obama to curb the carbon pollution that causes climate change.
    • Of those, 54 percent of Republicans, 88 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of Independents support presidential action.
  • Nationally, 86 percent of Latinos support setting limits on carbon pollution power plants discharge into the air to fight climate change.
    • Of those, 71 percent of Democrats, 44 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Independents strongly support setting limits on carbon pollution from power plants.
  • By gender, 88 percent of male respondents say that it is important for our government to tackle global warming and climate change and 92 percent of female respondents agree with this view.
  • Broken out  by income, 91 percent of those making less than $20,000 a year say that it is important for our government to tackle global warming and climate change, and 86 percent of those with incomes over $80,000 hold this view.

The survey conducted for NRDC by Latino Decisions, a leader in Latino political opinion research, interviewed 800 Latinos in the United States from November 27 to December 3, 2013. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percent. Previous polling has shown Latinos strongly back taking action against climate change. The Latino Decisions poll explored how intense that support is and why. In comparable national surveys of policy attitudes of Latinos conducted by Latino Decisions, only immigration reform scored higher levels of intensity.

"Of the issues we've polled, the only other national issue Latinos feel more intensely about is immigration reform," said Matt Barreto, co-founder of Latino Decisions and associate professor of political science at the University of Washington. "Action on climate change is a very high priority for Latinos—regardless of age, income, party affiliation or where they live."

"This is a clear message for public officials who want support from Latinos: protecting the environment is a top priority. If you want their support, taking action on climate change is an important place to start."

The poll also helps reveal some of why Latinos put acting on climate change so high a priority.

  • 83 percent find this statement convincing: Climate change is causing our communities here in the U.S. to face more dangerous and extreme weather.
  • 83 percent say they find this statement convincing: Climate change is causing our communities in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean to face more dangerous and extreme weather, who often have less resources to respond.
  • 65 percent say they think about environmental concerns in terms of the entire world, rather than in terms of themselves, their family or their community.
  • 86 percent are convinced that we have a moral duty to give our children a clean planet and that our ancestors worked and cared for the Earth, so we must continue their heritage and legacy by fighting climate change and protecting the environment.

Latinos are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population and their participation in the American political process is expected to double by 2030. Today, in the United States there are 53 million Latinos; 17 percent of the country's population. In another 50 years, census estimates say that the Latino population will rise to 129 million and comprise 31 percent of the country. In the 2012 elections, 12 million Latinos voted -- 10 percent of all voters -- and that participation is expected to double in about 15 years.

"Latinos are a growing and potent force in America, and they'll be watching closely as the president's climate action plan advances in Washington," said Quintero. "Latinos have a deep sense of interconnectedness, not only to family and friends we see every day but to our cousins, aunts and grandparents, whether they live in the United States or abroad. That powerful sense of community extends to concerns for others. Fighting climate change is part of our obligation to build a more hopeful future, for all."

Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said, "USHCC recognizes that clean energy and green jobs are the best alternatives for current and future businesses to thrive. That's why it's important for all of us to collaborate to protect our environment from harmful climate change. Majorities of people, including Latinos, agree that action is needed.  Let's act now, for a thriving economic future, and a planet we can be proud to pass on to our children."

Actor and activist Edward James Olmos said, "I agree with the 89 percent of Latinos who feel that we have an obligation to Mother Earth from climate change. For Latinos, protecting our families and ensuring a better future for our communities is critically important. Join me in this effort to speak out and demand strong action from the government to limit climate change."

For more on the poll, click here: http://docs.nrdc.org/globalwarming/glo_14012301.asp

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Latino Decisions is the leader in Latino political opinion research. Latino Decisions is a joint effort between Pacific Market Research, a nationally known research firm, and Dr. Gary Segura and Dr. Matt Barreto, leading Latino politics scholars and professors at Stanford University and the University of Washington. Latino Decisions employ its professional insights and specialized technical skills to produce the most accurate information about Latino political attitudes, experiences and engagement. See http://www.latinodecisions.com.

SOURCE Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C.

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