Public opinion polling consistently shows that for overwhelming numbers of Latino voters in the US, protecting the environment is not simply a priority; it’s a personal matter, a matter of protecting culture, family, and community, and safeguarding loved ones’ health. And, for majorities of Latino voters, cutting climate pollution is seen as a question of fulfilling a moral duty to take care of the earth, to honor a long heritage, and to protect future generations.

Latino voters consistently outpace the American population as a whole when it comes to concern and desire for climate solutions.

New polling conducted in November and December 2013 for the Natural Resources Defense Council by Latino Decisions not only bears this out but finds even more intense support for policies to counter global warming. The findings send a clear message. As Adrianna Quintero, senior attorney for NRDC and Founder of Voces Verdes, puts it, “Those who ignore these findings do so at their peril. Latinos are speaking up loud and clear…”

The survey also investigates the factors that motivate climate attitudes among Latino voters, giving us strong signals about effective communications strategies.

And some of the key messaging takeaways from this research are powerfully demonstrated by the Latino leaders involved in this project and working on other national-level efforts to engage Hispanic communities in climate solutions, particularly Latina leaders who also happen to be moms:

Latino Leaders (and Moms) on Climate

As a mother, I understand the urgency of solving climate change now, not just for my generation but for generations to come.—Maria Cardona, Latinovations

When it comes to the well-being of my baby boy, there’s nothing I want more than to give him the opportunity to live in a safe and healthy environment. One of the biggest threats to his future is global warming. As a parent I have to take a strong stand and demand clean energy…and support our government tackling climate change and protecting us from dirty fossil fuels like oil and coal.—Leonor Varela, actress and activist

Latinos have a deep sense of interconnectedness. Fighting climate change is part of our obligation to build a more hopeful future, for all.—Adrianna Quintero, NRDC & Voces Verdes

(Some of these quotes were trimmed slightly to fit this format. See full quotes here, here, and here.)

Here are highlights from the survey:

  • Nine in 10 Latinos want the government to take action against the dangers of global warming and climate change. Of those, 68 percent of Republican Latinos say that it is important.
  • Eight in 10 Latinos want President Obama to curb the carbon pollution that causes climate change. Of those, 54 percent of Republicans, 88 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of Independents support presidential action.
  • Nationally, 86 percent of Latinos support setting limits on power plants’ carbon pollution in order to fight climate change.
  • 83 percent find this statement convincing: Climate change is causing our communities here in the US to face more dangerous and extreme weather.
  • 83 percent say they find this statement convincing: Climate change is causing our communities in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean to face more dangerous and extreme weather, who often have less resources to respond.
  • 65 percent say they think about environmental concerns in terms of the entire world, as well as in terms of themselves, their family, or their community.
  • 86 percent are convinced that we have a moral duty to give our children a clean planet and that our ancestors worked and cared for the Earth, so we must continue their heritage and legacy by fighting climate change and protecting the environment.
  • Economic and religious factors proved somewhat less convincing for Latino voters. However, a solid 67 percent found it somewhat, very, or extremely convincing that “setting limits on carbon pollution from power plants will create more jobs.”

“Of the issues we’ve polled, the only other national issue Latinos feel more intensely about is immigration reform,” said Matt Barreto, co-founder of Latino Decisions and associate professor of political science at the University of Washington, “Action on climate change is a very high priority for Latinos—regardless of age, income, party affiliation or where they live.”

February 5, 2014