Press Release

Major Poll Shows African Americans Strongly Back Climate Action, Believe Shifting to Clean Energy Will Create Jobs, Hold Down Electric Bills

Jake Thompson, [email protected], 202-289-2387; or Elizabeth Heyd, [email protected], 202- 289-2424; or Vien Truong [email protected] 510- 663-6500

WASHINGTON (November 4, 2015) –Two-thirds of African Americans believe global warming is a serious problem, they want action more than the population at large and they overwhelmingly support the Clean Power Plan to address the growing climate crisis, a major new poll released today shows.

Fully 83 percent of African Americans back setting the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from coal- and gas-fired power plants under the Clean Power Plan’s standards, which the Environmental Protection Agency finalized in August, according to the poll released by Green For All and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Further, a strong majority of African Americans believe that as the nation drives down dangerous carbon pollution it can drive up the use of clean, renewable wind and solar energy.

Most African Americans count on this shift to clean energy to also create new jobs—six times the proportion that believes it will result in job losses. And 57 percent believe that expanding clean energy will reduce— not raise—their energy costs.

“The African American community has been hard hit by injustice, from violence against young people to disproportionate environmental harms from pollution, so it’s no surprise the community wants action. It’s time to hold polluters accountable and fight the pollution that causes climate change,” said Adrianna Quintero, director of Partner Engagement at NRDC, who released the poll with Green For All in a telephone press conference joined by two African American leaders, a solar company executive in Washington, D.C. and a prominent Chicago minister.

Vien Truong, Director of Green For All, said: “This polling shows that communities of color care about climate change and want to be part of creating solutions to pollution.  Climate change affects us all - and it hurts low-income communities and communities of color first and worst.  This information shows a ripe opportunity to engage communities of color.  By reflecting the diversity of our country, the climate movement will be stronger and better on equity and environment.”

Mark Davis, CEO of minority-owned WDC Solar, said: “I am a Green For All Climate Champion, and renewable energy and energy efficiency are two pillars of our plan for low-income communities to lower the cost of energy, create green jobs for low-income residents, and improve the environment. The Clean Power Plan can accelerate an increase we’ve already seen in African American participation in clean energy and can enhance economic empowerment in low-income communities.”

Rev. Stacey Edwards-Dunn, executive minister of community engagement and transformation for Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, said: “Climate change not only imperils the natural wonders of God’s creation, it threatens to cause enormous human suffering. Worldwide, we are facing severe drought, famine, disease, and disasters as a result of our climate crisis. We have a moral obligation to do all we can to lessen its impacts on our children and future generations.”

It’s perhaps not surprising that the African American community wants to protect their families from the impacts of a changing climate, because they are very real. The African American community has seen rates of childhood asthma increase a whopping 50% between 2001 and 2009.  Sixty-eight percent of African Americans, furthermore, live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant.

Some key findings from the poll of African Americans’ views on energy follow.

African Americans view global warming as a major problem:

  • While crime, economic issues and education rank as the most serious issues, 60 percent of African Americans rank global warming among the most serious issues.
  • 67 percent of African Americans say that action should be taken to reduce the threat of global warming.
  • They want action on climate change more than adults generally. Only 3 percent of African Americans say concern about global warming is unwarranted, compared to 13 percent of all Americans.

African Americans strongly believe a shift to clean energy will be good for jobs and their energy bills:

  • 66 percent of African Americans say using more renewable energy will translate into new jobs, while only 11 percent expect job losses. 
  • More than half, 57 percent, believe that shifting to cleaner energy will reduce their energy costs, and only 18 percent will increase those electricity bills.

African Americans overwhelmingly favor using more renewable energy than getting power from coal or nuclear:

  • 87 support using more solar power and 83 support more wind energy.
  • 42 percent favor getting more power from coal and 36 support more nuclear energy.

African Americans overwhelmingly embrace the Clean Power Plan and states developing state-based clean energy plans to implement it:

  • 83 percent support the Clean Power Plan, with 63 percent in strong support. Just 9 percent oppose the plan.
  • 82 percent back states developing clean energy plans that help cut carbon pollution, improve energy efficiency and boosting renewable energy.

Two firms, Marketing Resources International, Inc. and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, conducted the poll jointly. They interviewed 800 randomly selected African Americans nationwide September 20-27. Their poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

The pollsters’ summary memo the poll is here:

The pollsters’ questions and responses for the poll are here:

A blog by NRDC's Adrianna Quintero is here:

Listen to a recording of today's telephone press conference here:

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