On May 18th, as part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) annual issues summit, organizers held a panel discussion called “A Better Environment for Better Health.” The panel, moderated by Felipe Benitez, Executive Director, Corazón Latino, focused on addressing climate change in communities most affected by the vagaries of pollution.
This session brought health experts, policymakers, and stakeholders to discuss the intersection of health and climate change and how creating a better environment will improve health outcomes in Latino communities across the country.
Panelists were unanimous that the climate crisis is a health crisis. Extreme temperatures, droughts, wildfires, severe storms, water contamination, rising CO2 levels, and other climate events directly contribute to a wide range of health risks disproportionately faced by communities of color. According to a recent survey, over 70% of Latinos have personally experienced the impact of climate change, and the community faces higher rates of asthma, malnutrition, and mental unwellness.
EcoMadres’ Carolina Peña-Alarcón highlighted the national electric school bus program that hit the road in the summer of 2021 to build support for clean, electric school buses across the country. From Nevada to Delaware, they call for federal funding to upgrade old school buses with better technology to reduce children’s exposure to harmful diesel exhaust and climate pollution.
Carolina Peña, said, “The climate crisis affects all of us. And it’s up to all of us to solve it. Right now, less than 1% of the 480,000 school buses in our nation’s school bus fleet are electric. ”
Speakers included Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Marco A.Davis, President and CEO, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Moderator, Secretary Xavier Becerra, HHS, Shanna Edberg, Director of Conservation Programs, Hispanic Access Foundation Angela Manso, National Outreach Director, NRDC, and Carolina Peña-Alarcón, Program Manager, EcoMadres, EDF.