OpEd: CA Latinos Leading Climate Change Transformation

Co-authored with Christian Arana, Policy Director, Latino Community Foundation

California has cemented its status as a world leader on climate change. On Aug. 28, legislators passed a bill that will require the state to set a goal for the state to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable and zero-carbon sources by 2045. Championed by State Senator Kevin de León and local Latino conservation groups, this monumental achievement shows how the Latino community is determined to advance a healthier, more sustainable future for California, and the country.

As the United States withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement over a year ago, Latinos have taken the helm in clean energy transformation, against insurmountable odds, and in spite of demoralizing and systematic attacks by the current administration.

This is not surprising. Latinos have always been champions for climate change efforts. Latinos at the local level drive solutions that work for everyone and demonstrate how the state and the nation can make real progress. Just ask Susana de Anda from Community Water Center who fights for safe, clean drinking water in California’s Central Valley, or Luis Olmedo from Comité Cívico del Valle Inc. who advocates for cleaner air in the Imperial Valley.

When the Latino community is subject to the harmful effects of climate change, our voice must be elevated, and public policy must reflect the needs of those who are disproportionately affected. As environmental leaders come together for the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, there is opportunity to highlight how Latinos can collaborate with other affected communities to transform our world. After all, we are doing this for everyone, regardless of party affiliation, race or gender.

Let’s remain focused on achieving real outcomes by keeping the promise of the Paris Agreement alive. The harder we work to propel a total transformation to clean energy, the better we can survive the devastating effects of climate change, including the wildfires that are destroying California’s homes and beloved natural resources.

Latino leaders in business, government, media, education, advocacy, health care, philanthropy and those within the community, must own their power, raise their voices, and impact climate change policy and issues. Despite recent wins on climate change legislation for our state, we must remain united and take a stand against greedy powers that exchange our natural resources and long-term prosperity for short-term gains.

Keep moving forward. A greener, healthier future for all of us is possible—together, Latino leadership can change California, the United States, and the world.

About the Authors

Linda Escalante

Southern California Legislative Director

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