Year-End Priorities Letter to House Leadership

 There is opportunity to make real progress in key areas around climate change and job creation. We urge you to take advantage of the closing weeks of this session to advance key priorities.

Specifically, before 2019 comes to a close, we urge Congress to:

1. Fulfill our nation’s responsibility to coal miners and coal communities by passing bills targeted at reinvestment in these communities and protection of coal miners’ health and wellbeing.

2. Invest in clean energy. We also urged Congress to include critical clean energy tax credits in any end-of-year spending package.

3. Pass bills to invest in infrastructure, advance innovation, and protect workers.

We also urged that Congress ensure that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) only come to a vote if it levels the playing field and makes deep reforms to strengthen workers’ rights and climate and environmental standards, with independent and binding enforcement.

Paris Agreement Withdrawal is Both Stupid and Shameful

“Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today, and it presents a massive opportunity to build a new, clean economy that would grow American manufacturing and clean technology innovation and development. Walking away from this opportunity and from our responsibility to address the climate crisis is both stupid and shameful.”

Buy Clean America Summit: Harnessing Government Purchasing Power to Close the Carbon Loophole

October 23rd, 2019

8:30 am – 3:30 pm

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

The manufacture of raw building materials like steel and cement produces 11% of total global greenhouse gas emissions and is on the rise. But because these commodities are exported around the world, the countries that consume them rarely account for the carbon it took to produce them, and manufacturers are not rewarded for making low-carbon products.

Buy Clean policies help close this “carbon loophole” by spending taxpayer dollars on climate-friendly materials for infrastructure and building projects. Widescale adoption of Buy Clean state and federal purchasing programs would reward companies that are cleaner and more efficient. It would also give American manufacturers and workers a tremendous opportunity to take the lead in growing markets for low-carbon products.

This event will bring together leaders from policy, industry, labor, NGOs, and philanthropy to discuss recent successes with Buy Clean, opportunities to expand these victories at the state and federal level, and what this could mean for US manufacturers, workers, and the fight against climate change.

We would love to have you join us!

RSVP HERE.

 

 

It’s Time for Bold Action to Reduce Emissions

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we must act now to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The report state in no uncertain terms that “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” which “could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.”

The science says that we must act boldly. We need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions now—based on the latest science and in line with our fair share—to put America on a pathway of reducing its emissions to net zero emissions by 2050.

This won’t be easy, but if we do it the right way we can and will benefit working people across the country. To build that future we must deploy clean and renewable technology nationwide, including technologies like carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS), and zero carbon transportation options, as well implementing efforts like natural ecosystem restoration.

Energy efficiency is yet another important aspect of efforts to reduce emissions and massive investments will be needed to increase energy efficiency across all sectors. By wasting less energy in our buildings, energy generation and distribution systems, vehicles, and more we can reduce emissions while also lowering costs for households and communities across the nation and creating jobs here in the United States.

These efforts will get us started, and just as science has told us what we must do, continual scientific review is crucial to refining our progress and making sure that we are on the right path.

These efforts will go a long way to achieving our emissions reduction goals, but there must always be accountability. Such a vehicle for accountability has been developed on the international level in the form of the Paris Agreement, but due to the administration’s decision to leave the agreement, the United States has lost its leadership role in global climate negotiations. To meet the challenge set before us, the United States must recommit to our pledges under the Paris Agreement and once again become a leader in the global fight to address the climate crisis.

The climate crisis is not just an environmental issue, it is an economic issue, a humanitarian issue, and a social justice issue. The nation is already feeling the impacts of climate change in the form of more frequent and severe extreme weather events, like hurricanes, droughts, and flooding, and natural disasters like wild fires, and those communities that are already vulnerable—low-income, and marginalized communities—will be hit the hardest. The time to act boldly is now.

Labor, Environmental Leaders Release Historic “Solidarity for Climate Action” Platform

Leaders from the BlueGreen Alliance today released their platform to create good-paying jobs and fight income inequality by addressing the climate crisis at the headquarters of the United Steelworkers (USW) in Pittsburgh. The historic platform—entitled Solidarity for Climate Action—would put workers at the forefront of the ongoing discussion about how America will tackle climate change. It is the first such comprehensive plan to address climate change put forward by America’s largest unions.

“This historic moment in labor and environmental cooperation is the culmination of more than a decade of work,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers (USW). “The platform we are unveiling today is a roadmap to address both the climate crisis and growing income inequality in a way that leaves no workers or communities behind. The USW is proud to be a part of this effort, and I urge leaders at every level of government to help us make this plan a reality.”

“The only way we can tackle the climate crisis is with a broad coalition working to build and grow the clean energy economy that works for every community,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “The Sierra Club is proud to be a founding member of the BlueGreen Alliance and prouder still to support this platform to tackle the dual crises of climate change and inequality while creating new family-sustaining careers across the country.”

“We will not allow any worker or frontline community to be left behind as we build an economy with net-zero emissions—and this historic platform charts the path forward. The National Wildlife Federation is proud to stand with the BlueGreen Alliance, America’s workers, and our fellow conservation organizations to demonstrate that smart climate action supports both family-sustaining jobs and healthy natural resources,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We will work with our allies to transform this powerful platform into action across the country.”

“Our new climate platform demonstrates that the labor and environmental movements are unified, committed and energized to fight the growing dangers, and costs, from climate change. Together we can ensure that cutting climate pollution, rebuilding our infrastructure, making our communities resilient and transitioning to a clean energy economy will provide better jobs and lives for hard working families, while safeguarding everyone against the worst impacts of climate change,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Director of Programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The “Solidarity for Climate Action” platform addresses the dual crises of climate change and income inequality in a number of ways, including calling for rapid reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to put America on a pathway of reducing its emissions to net zero by 2050 and massive immediate investments in clean and renewable technology and energy efficiency across all sectors; efforts to increase union density across the country through strong support of the right to organize throughout the economy, including in the clean technology sectors; and rebuilding and modernizing America’s infrastructure and making our communities more resilient.

“As we look to America’s energy future, we must spend as much time planning for how current energy sector workers will navigate this shift as we do implementing policies that will address climate change,” said D. Michael Langford, President of the Utility Workers Union of America. “With the right approach, we can take significant steps that put America on the path to net zero emissions, while creating high-quality jobs that bolster the middle class. We look forward to working with state and federal lawmakers, communities, and other stakeholders to bring this vision of an inclusive, solutions-based approach to life.”

The platform also focuses on revitalizing and expanding the public sector workforce, ensuring staffing levels are sufficient to accomplish clean energy, resilience, adaptation, and crisis response objectives; building a national strategy to lead in clean and emerging technology production and supply chain development, including major investments in domestic manufacturing and innovation, penalizing offshoring, and a commitment to at least doubling funding of clean technology research, development, manufacturing, and deployment; and ensuring effective and equitable access to high-quality employment, training, and advancement for workers from low-income households, those historically under-represented on the basis of race, gender, and other criteria, and those adversely impacted or dislocated by technological change.

“The BlueGreen Alliance platform is a framework for urgent action with the specific recommendations needed to address climate change while ensuring the clean energy economy supports good union jobs,” said Service Employees International Union (SEIU) International President Mary Kay Henry. “SEIU members—whose homes have been destroyed by wildfires or floods, and who treat children whose asthma has been exacerbated by dirty air—support immediate, bold action on climate change.”

“We have the technologies and strategies that we need to transform the economy in a way that benefits American workers, communities, and the environment we all depend on,” said Kathleen Rest, Executive Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “But it will take real leadership from the White House and Congress to get the job done. UCS is committed to working with our BlueGreen Alliance partners and other allies to build support all across the country for this bold action plan.”

Finally, the groups said “Solidarity for Climate Action” features bold plans to guarantee pensions and to supply a bridge of wage support, healthcare, and retirement security until an impacted worker either finds new employment or reaches retirement. It also seeks trade agreements that are enforceable, fair for all workers, and benefit the environment—including the climate—and requirements for fair and safe working conditions throughout global supply chains.

“This bold plan of action addresses the climate crisis while creating and protecting good-paying jobs across the country,” said Elizabeth Gore, the Environmental Defense Action Fund’s Senior Vice President of Political Affairs. “Innovative technology combined with ambitious policy can improve opportunities for workers while dramatically cutting climate pollution and making our air cleaner.  This landmark effort was years in the making and it provides a blueprint to tackle some of the most pressing challenges that we face.”

“‘Solidarity for Climate Action’ lays out a powerful and achievable platform to address the twin crises of economic and social inequality and climate change,” said League of Conservation Voters (LCV) President Gene Karpinski. “Working families must be at the center of the rapid transformation our society needs to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, the reductions scientists tell us we must reach to tackle the climate crisis. LCV is proud to be part of this historic collaboration between labor and environmental leaders and encourage policy makers to work with us to turn this roadmap for a more fair and cleaner society into a reality.”

“To build a better future for all Americans we have to have a plan to fight climate change that works for everyone and this is it,” said Mike Williams, Interim Co-Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “This isn’t going to be easy, but it is necessary to secure the future of our nation and planet. We urge leaders from across the country to embrace this platform and we look forward to working with them to build a stronger, fairer, cleaner economy that works for all Americans.”

To download platform click the button below. A video of the Pittsburgh event is available at https://www.bluegreenalliance.org/work-issue/solidarity-for-climate-action/.

BlueGreen Alliance Supports International Climate Accountability Act

In response to the introduction of the bill today, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Interim Co-Executive Director Mike Williams:

“We know that we do not need to choose between a clean environment and a strong economy—we can and must have both. The International Climate Accountability Act puts us back on the right path to build that future.

“The opportunity before us is significant. If we do this right—by investing in infrastructure, job-training, and the development of the technologies of the future—we will create countless good jobs and lead the world in developing, manufacturing, and deploying the next generation of clean technology. We urge the Senate to quickly pass this bill.”

STATEMENTS: Leaders from BlueGreen Alliance React to House Passage of Climate Action Now Act

“Climate change is without doubt one of the greatest problems our nation faces. After years of leading in innovation and the development of the technology to combat this crisis, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement would be reckless. Such an action would strike a blow to the U.S. economy and environment that would be felt for years. The Climate Action Now Act is an important piece of legislation that would protect our nation from this ill-thought-out action.” – USW International President and BlueGreen Alliance Co-Chair Leo W. Gerard.

“To protect public health, to create family-sustaining clean energy jobs, and to provide a future for this generation and those to come, we must tackle the climate crisis. While Donald Trump and Washington Republicans continue to stick their heads in the sand, Congressional Democrats are continuing to make the case for bold climate action by recognizing that the Paris Agreement is a critical pathway for tackling the climate crisis, increasing global cooperation, and investing in the booming clean energy economy. The Sierra Club applauds Speaker Pelosi, Representatives Engel, Pallone, and Castor, and House Democrats for once again showing what climate leadership looks like.” – Sierra Club Executive Director and BlueGreen Alliance Co-Chair Michael Brune.

“Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement would be a disaster—not only for our environment—but for our economy and for communities across the nation already feeling the impacts of climate change. Americans don’t want to back away from climate action. They want a new plan for the future that will address this crisis, grow good-paying jobs, and build a strong foundation for our nation to lead the world in designing, manufacturing, and installing the technology we need to build a strong clean energy economy. The Climate Action Now Act is a welcome step in the right direction to building that future.”  – BlueGreen Alliance Interim Co-Executive Director Mike Williams.

BlueGreen Alliance Letter to U.S. House of Representatives in Support of H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act

In a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, the BlueGreen Alliance called for the swift passage of the bill, which ensures that the United States remains a party to the Paris Agreement and works to meet its commitments under the agreement

STATEMENT: BlueGreen Alliance Welcomes Support for Climate Action

“Adoption of the Paris Agreement was a historic step in the right direction. The current administration’s stated intention to withdraw from the agreement is a mistake, and we welcome today’s strong showing of support for global climate action. The effects of climate change are already being felt in communities across the nation in the form of more frequent and severe extreme weather events, wildfires, droughts, and rising sea levels.

“If we do this right—by investing in infrastructure, job-training, and the development of the technologies of the future—the United States can lead the world in driving the significant economic growth and job creation that comes from designing, manufacturing, and installing the clean energy economy. We urge Congress to build on today’s momentum and work to find solutions that grow good-paying jobs while protecting our communities from the worst impacts of climate change.”

COP24: Two Days Left and Many Unresolved Issues

It has been two years since the Paris Agreement entered into force and made history. Presently, 184 parties have signed or ratified the agreement. The BlueGreen Alliance, representing many of the United States’ biggest and most impactful labor unions and environmental organizations, applauded this landmark deal as the foundation for ensuring that the idea of addressing climate change is synonymous with creating and securing quality jobs and economic opportunities worldwide. This week in Katowice, we join advocates and delegates from across the world to ensure that the promise of this agreement is met.

Solving climate change can and should simultaneously build resilient infrastructure, improve community health and safety, safeguard wildlife, and strengthen and create economic opportunities and sustainability for all citizens.

Through effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, we have an opportunity to achieve critical progress towards securing our environmental and economic future. This will be determined, at least in part, by what countries include in the “rulebook” for implementation of the Paris Agreement, which countries have agreed to finalize at COP24.

Already much has happened during the first week at the COP, both concerning and hopeful.

Trump Administration Continues to Turn its Back on Science

This COP is occurring just months after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, which demonstrated that we must take immediate action on climate if we are to avoid serious, long-lasting, and deadly climate impacts. In the wake of this alarming report, the Trump administration over the weekend challenged the report, which was written by climate change experts from around the world.Three other nations joined the U.S. in blocking efforts to “welcome” the report—Kuwait, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

This comes on the heels of a series of extreme weather events here in the U.S., from multiple, devastating wildfires on the west coast, to destructive hurricanes pounding the southeastern states and knocking out power for millions of residents.

Despite President Trump’s complete abdication of U.S. federal responsibility on climate action, we continue to see real impacts of climate change here in the U.S. and around the world. We also continue to see action at the state and local level and an outpouring of innovative leaders announcing new and revitalized efforts to fight climate change. Across the country, Americans continue to reaffirm their desire for comprehensive solutions to address the threat of climate change that put workers and communities first.

For these are other reasons, it was particularly urgent that ministers and other officials arriving in Katowice for this second week of the COP came with a renewed sense of urgency to ensure that COP24 produces real results, particularly in terms of the Paris rulebook. However, much work remains to be done with only two days of the COP remaining.

What We’re Watching For

The BlueGreen Alliance believes that to build a future with a healthy environment and equitable economy, the following five principals must be addressed by the UNFCCC. As nations wrap up  work this week in Poland, here’s what we’re watching for:

Long-Term Ambition: Nations must ramp up ambition to meet the scientific reality.

COP24 must ensure a path towards increased ambition. In Paris, countries agreed to organize a “facilitative dialogue” at the COP this December in order to take stock of the collective pledges put forward by countries and their progress towards achieving the agreement’s goals. This process is called the “Talanoa Dialogue” and took place this Tuesday and Wednesday with world leaders meeting to discuss current progress. Many countries used this process to push for increased ambition in line with what the science demands and deliver concrete emission-reduction initiatives before 2020. Unfortunately, little concrete action came out of the dialogue. It is essential that the Paris rulebook facilitate an increase in ambition.

Just Transition: Governments must operationalize the Paris Agreement’s commitment to Just Transition.

The Paris Agreement, for the first time, recognized the impact of a transition to clean energy on workers and communities, and promised a regime that ensures no communities or workers are left behind. Last week, the Polish presidency introduced the Silesia Declaration to drive agreement on a Just Transition for workers and the creation of decent work and quality jobs. Today, more than 55 nations have signed on. We urge all countries at the COP to support this resolution.

COP 24 included a number of side events focused on Just Transition, including this one hosted by the International Trade Union Confederation.

A transition to the clean energy economy requires the resources, policies, and priorities needed to retool our nation; create family-sustaining union jobs; strengthen and grow no- and low-carbon sectors—including energy efficiency, renewable energy and industrial carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) applications; and ensure our communities are healthy and safe. If done right, addressing climate change can be one of the best ways to further develop the economy.

The wealth of this nation, and indeed the global economy, has been built on the contributions of millions of workers in carbon-intensive industries. These workers should not be cast aside or forced to choose between a better environment and economic stability.

Governments must operationalize the commitment of the Paris Agreement to a Just Transition by incorporating just transition policies to protect workers and communities into their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Parties must also continue to work on this issue through the Response Measures Forum. The COP decision must include Just Transition and encourage its continued work under the Response Measures Forum.

Verification and Transparency: Leaders must continue to lay out the parameters and needs related to verification and transparency.

The Paris rulebook must be robust and effective and provide transparency and accountability mechanisms that make the agreement work. Successfully addressing climate change requires bold, collective global action. No single country or region can meet this challenge alone. Each country must put forward its best efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, and developed countries must support developing countries as they move forward on both mitigation efforts and adaptation activities. This collective action cannot work unless each country’s actions are implemented properly and transparently, and includes the necessary means for measurement, verification, and review (MRV).

The BlueGreen Alliance has long argued that an effective global climate regime must be grounded in transparency. Implementation of the Paris Agreement must include strong provisions for biennial reporting and review, so that we can regularly assess the progress of all countries towards their commitments and hold them accountable for achievement of their environmental objectives. This level of review and transparency is an absolute necessity if we are to tackle global climate change in a fair and comprehensive way. It is also vital to ensuring a level playing field for globally competitive manufacturing while ensuring we are meeting the greatest environmental challenge of our time.

Finance: COP24 must ensure climate finance commitments are achieved.  

Governments must live up to their promise to mobilize USD $100 billion annually by 2020. A 2018 report found that finance provided and mobilized by developed countries exceeded $70 billion in 2016, while the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s more conservative approach found that such financing reached just under $57 billion last year. If we are to achieve the goal of $100 billion annually by 2020, governments must increase their commitments to financing.

The BlueGreen Alliance fully supports efforts to mobilize financial support for developing nations, which will help to achieve two core goals. The first is to help support a low-carbon economic development model for developing and emerging economies, including deployment of clean energy and energy-efficient technologies. The second goal is to provide international adaptation assistance. Vulnerable communities across the world are already being impacted by climate change, and even if we take much more aggressive action to limit the further buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, these impacts will continue to increase over the next several decades. As we move forward with job-creating solutions to the climate crisis, we must simultaneously take action to help the world’s most vulnerable communities adapt to the unavoidable impacts of extreme climate-related events, temperature increases, and sea level rise.

COP24 must deliver certainty on how this climate finance will be mobilized and must also ensure that funds are committed to financing Just Transition measures at the national, sectoral, and regional level. Little progress has been made so far.

Revenue: A comprehensive plan for raising necessary revenue must be outlined and consider innovative financing options.

Revenue must be generated for investments in technologies to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, a proper transition for workers and communities, support for manufacturing industries, and vital financing for developing nations. In addition to directly putting a cap and price on carbon pollution, there are various innovative financing options that can be used to raise revenue, such as public and private bonds, debt forgiveness, the elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels, and adoption of a global Financial Transaction Tax (FTT).

BlueGreen Alliance Statement on Anniversary of Withdrawal of U.S. from Paris Agreement

The BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Kim Glas:

“The United States is now the only nation in the world that is not committed to the Paris Agreement, and as such we have risked our ability to harness the economic growth and job creation that comes with being a leader in the clean economy. President Trump has surrendered our position at the forefront of the development, production, and installation of the clean energy technologies and infrastructure required to reduce the pollution driving climate change. Demand for such technology will continue to grow as every other nation in the world works to reduce emissions and comply with the agreement.

“A year later we remain disappointed by this misguided decision by the Trump administration and urge him to reconsider. Our nation has a responsibility to fight the climate crisis and, in doing so, the capability to capitalize on the significant job-creating opportunities of a clean economy here at home.”

THE ALLY FOR MAY 2018

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company.

ROLLING BACK FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS PUTS JOBS, INNOVATION AT RISK 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to propose rules in the coming weeks that could roll back the nation’s 2022-2025 fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for cars and light-duty trucks. The BlueGreen Alliance’s Zoe Lipman said that could put auto industry jobs and innovation at risk. “The current standards have helped bring back, secure, and create jobs nationwide; they have reduced pollution; saved consumers billions at the pump; and have been integral to growing and sustaining America’s manufacturing sector over the past decade. Weakening the rules could put American jobs at risk today and in coming years, and would threaten America’s competitiveness in manufacturing critical technology.”

A study last year by the BlueGreen Alliance and Natural Resources Defense Council found nearly 288,000 Americans working at 1,200 facilities in 48 states building the technology and materials used to make vehicles more fuel efficient. READ MORE.

DELAY OF CHEMICAL DISASTER RULE ENDANGERS WORKERS, COMMUNITIES

The BlueGreen Alliance joined a coalition of community, environmental health, worker safety, and public health organizations to release a report highlighting how EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s delay of the Chemical Disaster Rule continues to place American families and workers in harm’s way. The report spotlights some of the serious industrial chemical releases, fires, and explosions that have occurred in the year since the rule was placed on hold. The rule would have required more than 12,500 industrial facilities to take concrete steps to prevent chemical disasters that place millions of Americans at risk each year. READ MORE.

OFFSHORE WIND IN MASSACHUSETTS

Bay State Wind, labor, and community leaders announced a partnership was reached with the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union (Ironworkers) for a proposed offshore wind project, located 25 miles off the South Coast of Massachusetts, as well as to build an innovative training center that will prepare workers to operate and maintain offshore wind projects. READ MORE.

SPRING HOME PROJECTS? CHECK OUT BUILDING CLEAN TO FIND LOCAL, HEALTHY ENERGY-EFFICIENT BUILDING PRODUCTS

BuildingClean.org is a free tool to help everyone from building professionals to consumers find locally made building products and sort through what type of building products could contain dangerous chemicals and how to find healthier alternatives. The site features a searchable database that includes appliances, HVAC, insulation, lighting, roofing and plumbing materials, water filtration, and more. CHECK IT OUT.

BLUEGREEN ALLIANCE TESTIFIES ON TRADE

BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kim Glas testified this month before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy at a hearing examining a multilateral and strategic response to international predatory economic practices. The BlueGreen Alliance believes that trade agreements should have strong enforcement mechanisms and include strong and binding labor and environmental protections—including wage and environmental standards—in their core text. READ HER TESTIMONY.

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