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.


Please fill in your information in English.
* Your information will be treated securely and confidentially.

* Read more survey results here

Healthy Energy Systems

Reducing carbon emissions from our energy and transport systems will help make our communities healthier. Polluting energy production processes, such as oil and gas extraction, often pose extreme health and environmental hazards to local communities. Despite recent attempts to reign in dangerous oil drilling techniques, it remains a largely unregulated practice in California.

Advancing cleaner energy solutions such as non-coal electric, wind and solar power will create more jobs and combat climate change by reducing pollutants while continuing to provide energy for all. Investing in clean energy will save families millions of dollars on health care costs and likely reduce the incidence of heart attacks, asthma and other preventable illnesses caused by polluting sources of energy.

Inclusive Economic Growth

The emergence of green technology will create new jobs. Although this is a step in the right direction, it could be damaging to families of color whose incomes rely heavily on the agriculture and construction sectors that generate massive greenhouse gas emissions. The need to transition those sectors to greener forms of energy is essential to reducing poverty and continuing to provide jobs in a sustainable manner.

Creating environmentally friendly jobs can create pathways out of poverty and lead to a sustainable economic future.

Sustainable Communities

Low-income communities and communities of color are most impacted by economic hardship and environmental blight. Health concerns derived from air and water pollution are highest for Latinos and African Americans. According to the recent PPIC survey, sixty-three percent of survey respondents said polluted air was a serious health concern and 47% said polluted drinking water was a serious health concern. Of those numbers, whites (12% air pollution, 8% polluted drinking water) and Asian Americans (17% air pollution, 19% drinking water) are far less likely than Latinos (33% air pollution, 24% polluted drinking water) and African Americans (29% air pollution, 20% polluted drinking water) to say pollution in their area is a very serious health threat.

Reducing our carbon footprint, replacing old water systems, and using environmentally-friendly products will help our communities grow healthier and stronger in a sustainable manner.

Land, Air and Ocean Stewardship

Taking stewardship of the land and oceans where they live allows low-income and communities of color to build healthy, sustainable economies and prevent the displacement of families.

Pollution and blight take a toll on the health of these communities which are more likely to consume fish from contaminated water and live near polluting factories where they are exposed to toxic chemicals and poor air quality.

Community advocates are taking an active role in their future by being part of the solution and deciding what happens to their land and water. Using green space and parks to grow healthy food for the community is one of several solutions already being implemented. Cleaning up rivers and other contaminated water sources is the next step to ensuring safe food sources for these communities.

Ensuring the conservation of our land, air, and oceans, will allow future generations to enjoy the available natural resources and live healthier lives.

Transformative Climate Investment

As policy makers lag behind, those living in polluted neighborhoods most impacted by climate change have joined together to come up with solutions. Young environmentalists have started programs to raise awareness for green ideas and healthier foods.

Investing in communities of color through education and funding of programs increases civic engagement in those communities. Through strong representation and voter turnout, these communities can stimulate policy changes at the local level and beyond by pushing their political leaders to pursue sustainable environmental policies that will benefit all people.