Bringing Workers’ Voices to International Climate Change Solutions

Throughout our history, the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation has worked not just domestically, but also on the international stage with leaders of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to find solutions for climate change that also create economic opportunity and a just transition for those impacted by this move to a clean, low-carbon economy.

BlueGreen leaders call for efforts to ensure a just transition for workers in Copenhagen.

BlueGreen leaders call for efforts to ensure a just transition for workers in Copenhagen in 2009.

Back in 2008, we were a fledgling organization. Formed just two years earlier, we joined with our labor and environmental members to put a spotlight on the value of tackling climate change as a way to grow quality jobs. We hosted events in Poznan, Poland, that focused on the unique coalition between labor and the environment and the need for domestic and international action to solve climate change and to build a stronger global economy.

In 2009, we were there bringing the voices of workers to the eventual agreement in Copenhagen that set the stage for the international climate agreement signed in Paris seven years later. Our forward-thinking policy statement focused on pushing for U.S. action on climate change, using science-driven targets for international agreements, addressing international competitiveness, and investments to deploy clean energy and to ensure a just transition.

In Cancun in 2010, we pushed an agenda for addressing the key issues related to a global climate agreement that will ensure the transition to clean energy will benefit workers, revitalize the U.S. economy, and launch a new model of global economic development. The next year, in Durban, we lauded the Obama administrations efforts to curb carbon pollution by making the vehicles we drive every day more fuel efficient as an example of how climate progress can equate to growing good jobs. And, in Doha in 2012, we urged more immediate progress on a global climate deal that included a just transition for workers.

Back in Poland in 2013, we were there as the stage was set for the eventual Paris Agreement. We urged countries to take action and make the deal happen, and that deal should include sustainable investments, decent work promotion, social protection, and skills development for workers. At the UNFCCC 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) in Lima, Peru, the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation and our allies put the struggle for workers’ rights front-and-center in the debate.

Finally the stage was set for the Paris Agreement—a true international agreement that will hold counties accountable and help ensure a just transition for workers. It was a long road to Paris. But through the hard work and the dedication of our BlueGreen Alliance partners and allies, the agreement was one we can be proud of and one that will protect our planet. The Paris Agreement was signed by President Obama on Earth Day of 2016. As Executive Director Kim Glas said after the agreement was reached, ““We have been honored to stand alongside the diverse representation of civil society—labor, environment, human rights, youth, justice, gender equality, indigenous peoples and others—in this journey towards a world that is fair, just and not ravaged by climate change. We are not there yet, but that world is in sight.”