Based on the results of a recent survey, the Commission to Engage African Americans on Climate Change (CEAC) has issued a set of legislative principles aimed at advancing the interests of people of color in the climate debate.
According the survey, more than three quarters of African Americans would back federal policy action on climate change. Conducted by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, that survey found that a majority of African Americans (54 percent) characterize global warming as a major problem, with another 24 percent thinking it a moderate problem, while 81 percent believe that the federal government should take strong action to deal with global warming. The poll also found strong support (72 percent) among African Americans for legislative action that would mandate the U.S. to begin achieving the goals of the Kyoto treaty on climate change.
On balance, the survey found that while African Americans do not believe dealing with global warming will be cost-free, they do believe that not dealing with global warming will be more costly, and that a clean energy economy represents a better future.
“There is clear and strong support for action on climate change from the African American public,” said David Bositis, Ph.D., senior research associate with the Joint Center and noted scholar on black electoral politics and voting. “President Obama has urged the passage of climate change legislation and his advocacy certainly reflects the dominant sentiment of the black community.”
With results of that survey in hand, CEAC Friday released a set of legislative principles aimed at advancing the interests and concerns of African Americans and other people of color in the climate debate. The CEAC believes that responsible and equitable climate change legislation should achieve the following goals:
- Reduce emissions to avoid dangerous climate change, thus improving overall air quality and public health;
- Shift America away from an over reliance on fossil fuels to a clean energy economy; and
- Recognize and minimize any adverse and disproportionate economic impacts on vulnerable communities resulting from both climate change and policies to address it – while seeking to fulfill international emissions reductions commitments.
“There is a fierce urgency regarding climate change and its effects on the African American community,” said Ralph B. Everett, President and CEO of the Joint Center and Co-Chair of the CEAC. “People need to understand what is at stake–our very health and economic well-being. We are encouraged by the attention Congress and the Administration are giving to the concerns of communities of color regarding these issues.”
“African American communities are disproportionately affected by climate change, in terms of health impacts, economic effects, and quality of life issues” said Benjamin T. Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP and member of the CEAC. “The climate legislation currently under consideration in Congress is a much-needed step toward energy independence and a cleaner environment.”
The Joint Center and the CEAC are continuing to monitor the opinions of communities of color on these important climate issues. Center officials say they are looking forward to working with Congress and the Obama administration to implement a climate program that benefits all Americans.
Image via tomerlichtash under a Creative Commons License