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Falls Church Forum: “The Impact of Climate Change on the Health of Latino Communities”


This past Wednesday, Voces Verdes- Latino Leadership in Action hosted a forum in Falls Church entitled, “The Impact of Climate Change on the Health of the Latino Community.” Speakers included Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Alexandria/Arlington), Vanessa Cardenas (Latino Outreach Director of World Wildlife Fund), Lisa Garcia (Earthjustice’s VP of Litigation for Healthy Communities), Hareth Andrade (DREAMer & Arlington activist). I wasn’t able to make the forum, unfortunately, but Del. Lopez (moderator of the forum) was kind enough to forward me his opening and closing remarks, which I include below (after the “flip”). Also check out the tweets (in English and Spanish) and photos courtesy of Voces Verdes Twitter feed. Finally, check out this recent poll, which found that “Latinos have an intense commitment to action on climate change, carbon pollution standards, development of renewable energy sources, and strong policies to clean up our waterways and air.”

@VocesVerdes “Me interesa este tema del #cambioclimatico porque tiene que ver con nuestra salud y los trabajos.”

‏@VocesVerdes “Let’s make sure that #climatechange is not a soap opera. We don’t want a tragic ending. It affects us daily.”

‏@VocesVerdes “Flooding like in #hamptonroads directly affects #jobs & quality of life.” – @Lopez4VA #voces4climate #climatechange #cleanenergy

@VocesVerdes  “Tenemos que conectar nuestra vida cotidiana con el #medioambiente.” -Lisa Garcia, @Earthjustice #voces4climate

@VocesVerdes “Cómo vamos a crear un movimiento tan fuerte como lo de #inmigración?” – Gaston Araoz #voces4climate #virginia

@VocesVerdes “If thousands of #scientists say #climatechange is real, we can’t give weight to the oil & gas industry.” @Lopez4VA

‏@VocesVerdes  “El impacto que estamos teniendo en el #planeta está impactando más a los pobres.” -@vcardenasDC #voces4climate

@VocesVerdes  “Cuál es el rol del @Pontifex en este movimiento de #accionclimatica?” – Federico Cura #virginia #voces4climate

@VocesVerdes  Quien dijo que no nos importa nuestro medio ambiente!? Estamos aquí y de aquí no nos vamos #AccionClimatica

@VocesVerdes  “Tenemos que hablar con nuestras familias. Necesitamos un movimiento fuerte.” – Hareth Andrade, Dreamers of #Virginia

@VocesVerdes “We need to call upon our #electedofficials to talk to us about #climatechange. Queremos acción.” – @vcardenasDC, @WWF #voces4climate

@VocesVerdes “We have to show that we as #Latinos are united & care about nuestra #madretierra.” – Lisa Garcia, @Earthjustice

‏@VocesVerdes  “No hay cuestión que nos importa #inmigración. Es que también nos importa el cuidado del #medioambiente.” – Lisa Garcia #voces4climate

@VocesVerdes “#Latinos are more likely to live near polluting facilities.”-Lisa Garcia, @Earthjustice #voces4climate #ActOnClimate

‏@VocesVerdes  Our amazing panel today. Lisa Garcia from Earthjustice taking the mic right now en español! #ActOnClimate

@VocesVerdes “Tenemos que cuidar a nuestra creación.” -@vcardenasDC #voces4climate #CambioClimatico #accionclimatica #actonclimate

@VocesVerdes Thank you to our panelists for speaking to #Virginia community members about the #CleanPowerPlan! #voces4climate

@VocesVerdes  Voces Verdes is so proud of Falls Church’s Latinos for the amazing outcome today

@VocesVerdes  “El #cambioclimatico es real y nos esta afectando donde vivimos y trabajamos.”

Here are Del. Alfonso Lopez’s opening remarks:

Welcome to our program today – entitled “The Impact of Climate Change on the Health of Latino Communities.” I will be your moderator for the event. My name is Alfonso López and I am a Virginia State Delegate, proudly representing the 49th District.

As the founder and Chair of the Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy Caucus, it is a great honor to be here today to talk about the impact of climate change on the health of Hispanic families in Arlington and Fairfax and throughout the country.

Today’s panel is hosted by Voces Verdes, a non-partisan network of Latino leaders and organizations in the business, public health, academic, faith, and civic engagement sectors advocating for sound environmental policy to combat climate change.

I would like to thank Voces Verdes and their project coordinator Analisa Freitas for hosting this important forum.

Today we will discuss the effects of climate change on the health of Latino children and families.

The panelists will also discuss how the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan will help improve the quality of the air we breathe, benefitting the health of the Latino community in Virginia and across the country.

Joining us today are local DREAMer and social justice activist Hareth Andrade. Hareth is a founder of Dreamers of Virginia and co-founder of The Dream Project, through which she has pioneered the fight for in-state tuition and financial scholarship support in the Commonwealth. Thank you, Hareth, for being here today.

We also have Vanessa Cárdenas, Latino Outreach Director for the World Wildlife Fund. Through the WWF’s ¡Climático! Vanessa seeks to create and energize a space for dialogue and action on climate change between the growing U.S. Latino community and communities throughout the Americas. Thank you, Vanessa.

And, last but not least, we welcome Lisa García, Vice President of Litigation for Healthy Communities at Earthjustice. In her role, Lisa handles groundbreaking and high-impact litigation that protect communities and families from a wide range of pollution issues that impact them on a daily basis. Prior to Earthjustice, Lisa served in the Obama Administration as Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Environmental Justice at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Thanks Lisa for being here.

The format for today’s event is as follows. Each speaker will have five minutes to speak, and then we will open it up to questions and answers. Please feel free to ask questions either in English or Spanish.

Del. Lopez’s closing remarks:

Climate change is not something that will affect us later or tomorrow. It’s happening now and if we don’t take immediate action, our health will continue to be affected, especially the health of children and families.

El cambio climático no es algo que nos afectará mañana o en el futuro. Nos afecta ya y si no tomamos acción inmediata, nuestra salud seguirá sufriendo, al igual que la de nuestros niños y familias.  

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan will help reduce the amount of air pollution Latinos breathe, which is why our community should support it.

El Plan de Energía del EPA (Agencia de Protección Ambiental) ayudará a reducer la cantidad de contaminación ambiental que respiramos los latinos por lo que debemos apoyarlo.  

Let’s use our growing voice to let Congress and our elected representatives know that we care about climate change as a community and that we want them to take action to make our air cleaner and healthier to breathe.

Usemos nuestra voz colectiva para decirle al Congreso y a nuestros representantes que nos importa el cambio climático como comunidad; y que queremos que tomen acción climática para que nuestro aire sea más limpio y sano para respirar.