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Abstract

This paper examines speeches, articles, interviews and tweets from four New York City Latinx public figures: attorney Elizabeth Yeampierre, journalist Yessenia Funes, congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, in order to understand how these Latinx climate leaders approach climate change in parallel and contrasting ways from mainstream climate activists. This study found that the climate action of these four leaders is fueled by local, contemporary impacts of climate change. The intense focus on the local in their activism differs from mainstream action which often focuses on future global impacts. Miranda, the outlier of this study, often aligns with mainstream climate action. In contrast, Yeampierre, Funes and Ocasio-Cortez concentrate on how broader systems of inequality and exclusionary participation patterns within climate leadership generate climate policy that fails to address vulnerabilities faced by those least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. I argue that while all four climate leaders frame climate change as an actionable issue for US Latinxs by highlighting the impacts on US Latinx communities, Funes, Yeampierre and Ocasio-Cortez diverge from mainstream understandings of climate change by framing it through a discourse of economic injustice.

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