|Yesterday, Climate Power 2020 announced its Florida Co-Chairs, a coalition of state leaders and activists who reflect the diverse, grassroots movement needed to ensure 2020 is a defining moment for how our nation addresses the climate crisis.|
New Florida Majority Campaign Director and Founder of The Smile Trust Valencia Gunder, State Senator José Javier Rodríguez, Former Mayor of South Miami Dr. Philip K. Stoddard, and Former Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State at the U.S. State Department Dr. Frances Colón are partnering with Climate Power 2020 to hold anti-science candidates accountable for embracing anti-science policies that hurt all Floridians.
Nearly 60 percent of Floridians, according to polling from Yale University, are worried about climate change and even more think President Donald Trump and Congress should do more to address climate change. Yet Trump and his congressional allies are ignoring experts, refusing to believe in science, surrendering our government to big oil executives, and gutting public health protections, all at the expense of future generations.
“As a native of Miami, I’m all too familiar with the impact climate change has had in Florida. Over the past decade, we’ve seen more than a dozen billion-dollar climate disasters. And our vulnerable communities are all too often the least prepared and hardest-hit,” said Valencia Gunder, Founder of The Smile Trust and New Florida Majority Campaign Director. “I’m joining the board of Climate Power 2020 because I know that Floridians need climate action and climate justice now.”
“Climate is connected to almost every other issue we face as a country and we must begin to take it seriously for the health, safety, and economic wellbeing of our communities — most immediately apparent is the urgency South Florida faces ahead of what is expected to be a record hurricane season while our communities tackle a pandemic and economic crisis,” said State Senator José Javier Rodríguez. “I am proud to partner with Climate Power 2020 to fight for our government to protect our communities by making it a priority to protect people from the impacts of climate and listening to the science as we do so; as well as by fighting for renewable energy and promoting sustainable economic opportunities.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a very real example of what happens when we don’t heed the warnings of experts. If we continue to do the same with the threat of climate change, it will have all-out disastrous repercussions on our wellbeing and economic security. This is especially true in a coastal state like Florida where climate disasters and extreme weather are already occurring at an alarming rate,” said Dr. Philip Stoddard, a former Mayor of South Miami. “I’m excited to join Climate Power 2020 in the fight against climate change and for our future.”
“In a time of disinformation, the role of science is to serve society, cutting through the noise with facts accessible to all. We rise to the challenge of the climate crisis by meeting our communities where they are at, to create a more just and prosperous future,” said Dr. Frances Colón, the former Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State at the U.S. Department of State.
Climate Power 2020 will focus on Florida because of its importance to the 2020 election map and the high concentration of individuals living there that data shows are most motivated by climate change political messaging. Sixty-one percent of Floridians believe Trump should do more to combat climate change even as he dismisses the crisis by calling it a “hoax.”
Floridians are also living with the impacts of climate change with periods of intense heat and dangerous flooding on the rise. Research shows that more than 6 million Floridians will live in at-risk flood zones by 2050, putting these families in danger of economic hardships, polluted drinking water, and even death. Since Trump took office, Florida has experienced seven climate-related disasters responsible for a total of $85 billion in damages. Low-income neighborhoods in Miami are also experiencing “climate gentrification,” where wealthy people preparing for climate change displace people of color from high-elevation areas.
Latino voters in Florida have long been an important voting group, increasing their share of the voting-eligible population with each election cycle. Between 2012 and 2016, Latino voters’ share of the electorate increased from 17.3 to 18.1 percent. If this group voted in 2016 at the same rate they did in 2012, that would have meant an additional 232,000 voters showing up in an election that was decided by only 112,911 votes.
Younger voters in Florida have an enormous potential to upend a national election simply by showing up to vote. In 2012 and 2016, voters under 35 made up 19.7 and 19.6 percent of Florida’s electorate, respectively, while making up 25 percent of the citizen population. With over 3.6 million Floridians under the age of 35 eligible to vote in 2020, only a modest change in turnout rate among young or Latino voters could force a conversation on climate change and force anti-science candidates, including President Trump, to defend his failed agenda.
The state co-chairs join an already formidable collection of Advisory Board members, including Founder of Fair Fight and the Southern Economic Advancement Project Stacey Abrams, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Co-Author of the Green New Deal, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Founder/CEO, Ocean Collective, Former Secretary of State John Kerry, Climate Strike Partnerships Coordinator at the Future Coalition and co-founder of the International Indigenous Youth Council Thomas Lopez, Former Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Former Senator Harry Reid, Former Investor, Philanthropist, and Founder of NextGen America Tom Steyer, Varshini Prakash, Executive Director, and Co-Founder, Sunrise Movement, and Jamal Raad, Co-founder and Campaign Director, Evergreen Action, among others.
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In just the last few years, our supporters have helped us stand up to the political establishment and reclaim our democracy: expanding voter registration in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, raising wages for workers in Miami, registering tens of thousands of new voters in black and brown communities, and shifting the balance of power in the Sunshine State for good.