By Albert Jacquez
The House recently passed the Climate Action Now Act (H.R. 9) with 231 votes, three of which came from Republican House Members. The Climate Action Now Act requires the President to develop and annually update a plan for the United States to meet its nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement on climate change to reduce greenhouse emissions. The proposed legislation also prohibits federal funds from being used to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. A similar bill has now been introduced by Senator Shaheen in the Senate.
Because the majority of Latinos in the United States live in Texas, California, and Florida, our communities directly experience the drastic effects of climate change. Latino communities in these states battle with extreme summer temperatures, smog, droughts, wildfires, floods, and hurricanes. According to research from the World Bank, the Rhodium Group, the Environmental Protection Agency, Nature and other sources which state extreme heat hurts farm worker productivity, which may result in an increase in the price of produce and the loss of jobs for many U.S. Latino farm workers. This is a double-edged sword for our community: a loss of income for many farm workers, and an inability to afford produce for low-income families across the country. Smart climate policies would help create high-paying, clean energy jobs and help save millions of people money on their electricity bills.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s “Nuestro Futuro” report, Latino communities are more susceptible to the effects of climate change. The report finds that because ”Latinos are heavily represented in crop and livestock production and construction, where they’re at elevated risk from climate-change-boosted extreme heat. They are three times more likely to die on the job from excessive heat than non-Latinos.” These issues are exacerbated by a lack of health insurance coverage and access to healthcare in the Latino community.
By 2025, the Climate Action Now Act would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26%-28% below levels measured in 2005. It also would ensure that America is a leader among other major economies across the globe in fulfilling its commitment to saving our planet.
If we are serious about protecting our planet, our children, and the most vulnerable members of our community against the wide-reaching effects of climate change, we need our elected officials to take action now to address climate change. The Climate Action Now Act is an important first step toward common-sense actions against one of our country’s most dangerous threats to the Latino community.
Albert Jacquez is the Executive Director of UnidosUS Action Fund.