Obama's Climate Plan Will Bring Important Benefits for the Latino Community

Thumbnail image for Los Angeles smog_Wikimedia Commons_Aliazimi.jpg

In a landmark speech today, President Obama laid out a clear plan to tackle climate change and reduce dangerous carbon pollution in the United States and abroad stating “We can do [this] as long as we don't fear the future; instead, we seize it.”

Today’s plan marks a turning point for our country and our planet. By laying out a concise but ambitious plan of action, President Obama has mapped out our road to a healthier, clean energy future but warned that "[t]he question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late."

Clearly there are some powerful interests who will continue to prioritize their economic interests over our children’s health and the world that we will leave to future generations, but the fact remains that it is our duty to ensure that this plan has the support it needs. This 3-pronged approach will: 1) cut carbon pollution in America; 2) prepare the US for the impacts of climate change, and 3) lead international efforts to address Global Climate Change.

By proposing to limit carbon emissions on power plants, the U.S. will tackle one of the major sources of climate pollution since up to 40 percent of emissions come from existing power plants. It’s time the U.S. put limits on the on power plants that currently are “allowed to dump unlimited amounts of carbon into our atmosphere, threatening our health and environment.”

Instead, we can clean up our air and stabilize our climate for future generations. We are already experiencing the impacts of climate change and millions of Latinos will suffer some of the worst health impacts if climate change remains unchecked.

While the Latino community may be extremely focused on immigration reform these days, this critical voting bloc’s concerns go beyond a single issue. Recent polling shows that 86 percent of Latinos in the United States support the president taking action to control the pollution that causes climate change.

The President’s plan will also tackle carbon by increasing energy efficiency. The plan includes new efficiency targets for appliances and buildings that will cut carbon pollution setting new standards and retrofitting buildings to cut billions of metric tons in pollution by 2030. For Latino-Americans who make up a large part of the construction workforce, this translates into jobs.

These steps, along with an increased focus on developing renewable energy sources demonstrates a firm commitment from the President to take action to reduce the pollution that is threatening our climate, the health of our communities and our economic well-being.

While naysayers and those with interests in furthering the fossil fuel industry’s chokehold on our energy future will argue that this will cost too much, Obama reminded us in his speech that this argument is the same one we’ve heard time after time when now long-standing policies were first proposed (for example the auto industry argued this when seatbelts were first proposed in 1966.)

Taking action now is the difference between facing the worst impacts of climate change or not. For so many of us Hispanics who have family members living through the worst impacts of climate in their home countries, the plan’s commitment to financing international climate mitigation and adaptation projects, primarily in developing countries and those countries most vulnerable to sea-level rise and other climate threats is a critical piece.

Obama reminded us today that we are already paying the price of inaction and our children will be left with an even heftier bill if we do not act now. It’s our moral obligation to future generations to leave them a healthy planet. This plan will tackle climate change constructively not only in the U.S. but globally.

It’s time to work together to make this happen.