President’s Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement a Huge Let-Down to the Latino Community

By Mark Magaña, GreenLatinos

The President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement was a huge let-down to the international leadership on climate and many other issues on which our nation has been at the forefront of engaging collaboratively with the global community. The White House’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement is not only catastrophic in our fight on climate change but will also cripple diplomatic ties. This decision is another example of this Administration attempting to roll back progress made in the fight for climate change.

The Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2015 when 195 countries came together and agreed on curbing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping the global temperature from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels over the course of the next century. The Latino community and NHLA is committed to Climate Justice - whether this Administration maintains our national commitments or not. We will work with our communities to urge local and state leaders to act in reducing carbon and climate change inducing pollution irrespective of the void in leadership from the President.

By signaling an exit from the Paris Agreement Donald Trump continues to steer the United States down a dangerous path that not only jeopardizes the public health and environment of our own communities-- including millions of Latinos, who are often on the front lines of the worst impacts of climate change and pollution -- but also puts at risk the global community as a whole.

Domestically, Latinos face an increased vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and pollution. Nearly 2 in 5 Latinos lives within miles of a power plant. As a result, Latinos—particularly children and the elderly— risk greater exposure to increased extreme heat and weather, smog, and air pollution. Latinos are also more likely to suffer from asthma attacks, necessitating more days off from school or work as a result of pollution-related illness.

Latinos tend to reside in communities that are least likely to be prepared for climate change through adaptation and resiliency measures. They are also among the most vulnerable populations to extreme weather events and higher incidences of health disparities as a direct result of environmental degradation. As is often the case, the most vulnerable communities feel the greatest impacts. For example, the 28 million Latinos living in California, Texas, and Florida, states that are experiencing the most dramatic impacts of droughts, heat waves, and sea level rise. Furthermore, the high percentage of Latinos working in the agricultural fields make them three times more likely to die from excessive heat while working compared to the general population. In addition, according to the EPA, language barriers affect Spanish-speaking Latinos disproportionately as well.

According to a 2016 polling commissioned by GreenLatinos and the Sierra Club, 89% of Latino voters indicated that the environment and pollution impacted their quality of life, with 88 % of Latino voters expressing their concerns over global climate change; and not surprisingly, 93 % of Latino voters believe it is important for the U.S. to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions linked to climate change.

The President's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement will keep many Latinos and other underrepresented communities from fully benefiting from a healthy and productive quality of life, which in turn affects our economy and productivity as a nation. We know where our community stands on these issues which is why NHLA will continue to push toward a world where environmental decisions are made with equal input from all impacted communities, and where Latino communities in the U.S. are treated fairly, justly, and equitably with respect to environmental concerns. If the President will not provide the leadership on global climate change that his office and the people that he represents demands, then NHLA and our member organizations will work with our communities, and other elected officials who will step up and we will still meet our commitments in the Paris climate agreement without him.