While the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have touched all aspects of our lives, it is only one global threat that we face at this transitional moment in history. Behind the pandemic—and connected to it—remains the ongoing and increasing threat of climate change. Both threats disproportionately impact people with chronic health conditions and lower incomes, as well as communities of color. According to a recent Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public health study, this is primarily because of pollution. These communities, for example, are exposed to higher levels of climate change-driving air pollution than are wealthier communities, weakening their overall health and increasing their COVID-19 mortality rates. This nexus is not new. The concurrence of these massive global threats simply makes its inequities clearer.
Climate change in California continues to take a toll on our environment, our communities and our way of life. Impacts range from increasingly frequent and extreme instances of wildfire, droughts, heat waves, floods, air and water quality concerns, sea-level rise and coastal erosion, as well as the spread of infectious diseases.
According to a recent statewide survey conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), a majority of Californians are concerned about wildfires that are more severe (89%), droughts that are more severe (88%), heat waves that are more severe (81%), or greater rises in sea levels (74%). Such concerns are driven by the fact that climate change impacts like these negatively impact agriculture, and tourism in California.
Californians are acutely aware of climate change and what it means for the future of our state. The recent statewide survey conducted by PPIC found that residents understand and support policies to address climate change, including laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Other key survey findings:
- Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, 74% of Californians support always wearing masks in public.
- Two-thirds of respondents say air pollution is a serious threat, with Latinos and African Americans most likely to say it is a health concern.
- Majorities of respondents oppose offshore drilling and favor protecting marine sanctuaries.
Most Californians support current state efforts and policies designed to fight global warming:
- 77% approve of a state law requiring greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.
- 77% approve of climate change policies requiring all commercial trucks sold in California to be zero-emissions by 2045.
- 77% approve of a law requiring all the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2045.
- 62% approve of a state cap-and-trade system, designed to provide an incentive for companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Take Action Now
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Californians strongly support the state’s policies to address global warming. The PPIC survey found that, compared to adults nationwide, Californians place greater personal importance on addressing global warming and 73% of Californians are willing to change their own lifestyle to reduce emissions.
Message to California Governor Newsom and Legislators
Dear Gov. Newsom and California Legislators:
California remains a leader on climate change policy and has continued to set its own goals and standards. As California voters, we care about our environment and strongly support climate change policies that address global warming and we urge our state leaders to do the same.
A recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found that eight in 10 Californians say global warming is a very serious threat to California’s future economy and quality of life; 73% of Californians approve of the state’s emissions goals and are willing to change their personal lifestyle to help make that happen.
We urge you, our leaders, to continue the fight, address the social, economic and environmental impacts of climate change, and take immediate action to ensure a sustainable future for all of us.