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Coalition Of Environment Groups Launches Push For State Action On Climate Change

Protesters from several environment groups gathered in Miami's Museum Park last June, angered by President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accords.
Kate Stein
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Days after eight kids sued the state of Florida for policies they say contribute to climate change, a coalition of environment groups has launched a statewide campaign to get Floridians engaged on the issue.

A dozen state and national groups are behind the Florida Climate Pledge, which opened for signatures on April 19. Organizers say they have two goals: to help Floridians understand how climate change is impacting their daily lives and to encourage state action on climate issues.

"We're seeing record-breaking heat and it takes a huge toll on our community," said Natalia Ortiz of the Miami-based CLEO Institute, one of the campaign leaders. Sea-level rise "affects our drinking water and it also affects our agricultural industry: You can't grow tomatoes or oranges in saltwater.

"The idea behind the Florida climate pledge campaign is to connect the dots for Floridians so they have a full understanding of how climate change impacts them," she said. Pages on the climate pledge website explain how hotter temperatures, rising seas and stronger storms impact public health, the economy and national security.

In 2018, an election year, organizers say they hope to set an example for other states on how to engage voters on climate issues despite a federal government that's less than responsive on the topic and a political climate that casts doubt on scientific facts.

The first line in the pledge is, "I acknowledge that the earth’s climate is changing, and that human activity is the primary cause."

“Climate change is the biggest challenge of our generation,” said Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, in a statement. “It will take all of us, scientists, policy makers and voters, working together to save our economy and our quality of life.”

National groups participating include the Natural Resources Defense Council and the March for Science.

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Kate Stein can't quite explain what attracts her to South Florida. It's more than just the warm weather (although this Wisconsin native and Northwestern University graduate definitely appreciates the South Florida sunshine). It has a lot to do with being able to travel from the Everglades to Little Havana to Brickell without turning off 8th Street. It's also related to Stein's fantastic coworkers, whom she first got to know during a winter 2016 internship.Officially, Stein is WLRN's environment, data and transportation journalist. Privately, she uses her job as an excuse to rove around South Florida searching for stories à la Carl Hiaasen and Edna Buchanan. Regardless, Stein speaks Spanish and is always thrilled to run, explore and read.