The Next Environmental Stewards

The research is clear: For climate leadership, look no further than young people, people of color, and young people of color.

Read Time: 2 minutes

September 20, 2018, 1:00 PM PDT

By Elana Eden


Climate Change

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Ahead of the November election, environmental scientist and advocate Ayana Elizabeth Johnson reviews the polling on climate change to identify key "environmental voters." The upshot? Millennials and people of color—and millennials of color—could save the planet.

While  concern for environmental issues falls decidedly along party lines, the "core constituency" for climate action is the same even within and across parties. Millennials are "twice as likely as older voters to care deeply about the environment," she writes, with 67 percent believing climate change should be a "top priority" for the federal government. Millennials are also "the generation most supportive of expanding wind farms, least supportive of expanding fossil fuel extraction, and most concerned about the lack of protection of animals, habitats, water quality, and parks."

Environmental protection also tends to be a higher priority for Latino, Black, and Asian voters than for whites:

"When it comes to climate change, the polling data is striking: 70 percent of Latinos and 56 percent of blacks believe the earth is getting warmer because of human activity, compared to 44 percent of whites. Additionally, 54 percent of people of color think addressing global warming should be a top priority for the government, compared to 22 percent of whites — a gap that has widened by 10 percent over the last decade as fewer whites consider it a priority."

Climate policy is increasingly on the radar of American voters overall, Johnson writes, but understanding this breakdown highlights an opportunity for advocates to turn out a new bloc of environmental voters.

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