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.”

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.”

America’s Infrastructure is Not Ready for Hurricane Season

“Hurricane season is just a month away and we are not ready. Communities that were hit hard by last year’s historic season are still rebuilding. Puerto Rico’s grid is still unstable, and families from Houston are still displaced. We were not ready last year, and we are not ready now.

“Last year showed us that our nation’s infrastructure has not been built for the impacts of climate change. As we continue to rebuild impacted communities—and repair our crumbling infrastructure everywhere—we must do so with the reality of climate change in mind. We must ensure that the next generation of American infrastructure is ready for the next Hurricane Harvey, Irma, or Maria.”

Americans Workers on the Ground Helping Disaster-Struck Areas While Congress Drags its Feet

For months, affected communities have been waiting for Congress to provide adequate relief funding that is so urgently needed. Congress has been dragging its feet, and now is poised to potentially pass the buck even further with yet another continuing resolution to keep our government funded. But, brothers and sisters of some of the nation’s largest labor unions have been working hard to pick up the slack, providing much-needed relief to communities in distress.

Puerto Rico’s water infrastructure was in bad shape before Hurricane Maria hit the island in September 2017. According to one report, 99.5 percent of the population was served by community water systems in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Maria only made the situation worse, leaving at least 30 percent of the population without access to drinkable water of any sort. Reports from the island told of desperate citizens drinking from hazardous Superfund sites, and filling jugs in contaminated runoff.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) could not stand by as the health, safety, and lives of millions of American citizens were put at risk. AFT launched Operation Agua to provide safe drinking water to families across Puerto Rico. The union collected donations for the purchase and distribution of water filtration systems throughout the island. Operation Agua has raised more than $1.5 million since it was launched.

When flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey forced hundreds-of-thousands of people from their homes in Texas, members of United Steelworkers (USW) were among those to brave the rising waters to rescue individuals and families stuck in dangerous situations. When the water finally receded, USW members were there to help their brothers and sisters begin to rebuild.

Hurricane Harvey impacted more United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA) members than any of the other storms to hit the U.S. in 2017. As the storm began to clear, UA members immediately began collecting supplies. A distribution center was organized to get donations from UA members throughout the nation out to those in need.

By the end of September, 2017, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART) had distributed roughly $500,000 in cash and material relief to impacted members. Volunteers across the U.S. and Canada collected and delivered box, fans, dehumidifiers, bleach, food, diapers, and other items to members in affected communities.

In addition to manning the boats that were used to rescue people from the flood waters in Texas, USW launched a disaster relief fund, as did UA. A similar fund was opened by the Service Employees International Union to help members in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and California impacted by 2017’s powerful storms and the wildfires that continue to burn in the west.

Members of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) were among the first to spring into action after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma left thousands of residents in Texas and Florida without electricity. UWUA members from across the country loaded up their trucks to help get the lights back on in impacted communities.

Another BlueGreen Alliance member, the Sierra Club, was quick to launch relief efforts after the Hurricanes hit. The group mobilized a response team to get on the ground in Puerto Rico as rapidly as possible. The response team worked with contacts in Puerto Rico to arrange shipments to the island of solar lanterns and water filters, which were then distributed in many cases door-to-door to those without electricity or access to clean water.

In early December, members of the BlueGreen Alliance called on Congress to act swiftly to provide aid to impacted communities and give them the resources to re-build stronger, cleaner, and more resilient. Nearly two months later, an emergency aid package has stalled in the Senate while thousands of Americans who have been displaced, who have lost their electricity, and who still lack clean drinking water, wait.

Throughout the nation, America’s workers have been on the ground, helping to provide critical services to those in need, volunteering their time and money to those who have lost everything. Unfortunately, the problem is much bigger than can be handled by even the most ambitious of our laborers. It’s time for Congress to take a cue from these hardworking men and women and get to work to provide much-needed emergency relief to communities impacted by the record-breaking storms of 2017.

U.S. Businesses, Labor, Environmental Leaders Focus on Cooperative Efforts to Fight Climate Change

BONN (November 10, 2017) Leaders from the BlueGreen Alliance today were joined by The Business Council for Sustainable Energy at the United Nations’ 23rd annual climate change summit, also called COP23, in Bonn, Germany, to discuss how cooperative efforts are underway in the United States to fight climate change. The leaders said the labor and environmental movements have joined with businesses, cities, states, and regions to take action on climate in the face of the Trump administration’s commitment to withdraw from the Paris agreement.“The world is not standing still waiting for President Trump to come to his senses on responding to the threats posed by climate change,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Fortunately, they don’t have to. Local and state leaders, businesses, union members, environmentalists, and others in the U.S. are working together to address climate change in smart ways that will create and sustain good jobs in their communities. Their message to the world is clear: ‘we are still in,’ no matter what Donald Trump says or does.”

Labor, environmental, and business leaders hold a press conference at COP23 in Bonn, Germany.

“By 2030, it is estimated that the global demand for clean energy will become a $1 trillion annual market,” said Lisa Jacobson, President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “U.S. companies are leaders in these markets and are committed to serving the needs of customers worldwide that are demanding these solutions. We need leadership at local, state, and regional levels—joined by the business community—to ensure we maintain America’s competitiveness in manufacturing and technology industries.”

The speakers highlighted opportunities for the United States to reduce carbon pollution and create quality jobs. One such example is “Buy Clean” legislation in California, which was recently passed by the state’s legislature and signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown. The newly enacted law will incentivize the government of the state of California to procure materials with lower life-cycle carbon emissions when repairing and modernizing the state’s infrastructure system. Another example touted by the groups is the first offshore wind farm off the coast of  Rhode Island, which is not only creating renewable power for thousands of households, but creating quality, family-sustaining, union jobs as well.

Despite the administration’s intention to withdraw from the Paris agreement, the speakers reiterated their support for an international agreement that supports workers and addresses the ongoing climate crisis.

“Last month—for the first time—the U.S. labor movement passed a resolution on climate change resolving to support action on combatting climate change while ensuring that environmental and energy policies include a focusing on ensuring high labor standards as well as environmental sustainability,” said United Steelworkers (USW) Legislative Representative Anna Fendley. “Despite the Trump administration’s actions, the USW is committed to working at the state and local levels to keep the U.S. commitments made in the Paris agreement.”

“Since the President’s announcement, we have seen an outpouring of innovative and courageous leaders announce new and revitalized efforts to fight climate change, while creating quality jobs,” said Jessica Eckdish, senior policy advisory for the BlueGreen Alliance. “With or without the president and Congress, the world is moving forward and we need to keep pace to ensure that we tackle climate change in ways that increase America’s competitiveness, grow and sustain quality jobs in the U.S., and protect our environment, communities, and workers.”

View video from the event. 

View the BlueGreen Alliance’s COP23 Statement of Principles.