News | September 10, 2008

African American And Latino Communities Less Concerned About Global Warming Issues, According To Survey

SACRAMENTO, Calif.-- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- In response to heightened media coverage of issues related to climate change, The Research and Policy Institute of California (RPIC) analyzed the perceptions of minorities throughout the state – African Americans and Latinos.

Of five key priority issues affecting minorities to date, global warming was consistently ranked the lowest priority, according to the survey. Findings in the survey also indicate minority communities are under-educated on legislative measures and policies intended to combat global warming.

Education and awareness on environmental issues and legislation appears to be low – and frequently absent – within the minority communities, based on RPIC's findings.

"Education is a key factor in the lack of awareness about environmental legislation and the many components within the legislation that goes beyond just providing a cleaner environment or improving air quality," said Casanya Ursery, Executive Director of RPIC.

RPIC surveyed nearly 200 community leaders throughout the state to serve as a broad indicator of how educated their communities are and the perceptions they have regarding proposed state legislation such as Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act passed in 2006.

The community leaders surveyed consisted of public policy leaders, civic leaders and key influential business leaders in the state's African American and Latino communities. Organizations who participated in the survey included the California Black Chamber of Commerce (CBCC), the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (CHCC), and the state's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Though education and awareness on environmental concerns was not high, overwhelmingly respondents of the survey placed the development of renewable energy sources as the most pressing environmental priority.

"African-American and Hispanic small businesses and families will be hardest hit by the higher electricity, fuel and food costs resulting from AB 32, and yet this survey shows that there is very little known about the state's proposed climate change plan in our communities," said Aubry Stone, President and Chief Executive Officer of the CBCC.

Responses in the survey revealed African American and Latino communities would be unsupportive of environmental policies and measures that could cause financial hardship. Only 17 percent of respondents believed their communities would support increased energy costs to consumers that are intended to promote improved environmental conditions.

"Small businesses in the Hispanic and African-American communities are the economic backbone of many neighborhoods throughout the state. They are already challenged by higher energy costs, and AB 32 could impose even higher costs. Before the state finalizes its climate change program they need to proactively reach out to these important stakeholders," said Eligio Nava, Chief Executive Officer of the CHCC.

The survey also indicated that 88 percent of respondents believed the state should evaluate whether implementation of the proposed environmental legislation would impact lower-income families.

"This survey provided a very strong indication that minorities are concerned this may become more of a detriment than an overall benefit to them and their communities," Ursery said.

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