Labor, Environmentalists Urge Passage of Climate Legislation in 2009
The four labor unions and two environmental organizations that make up the BlueGreen Alliance announced their support for comprehensive cap-and-trade climate change legislation in 2009, which they said will rapidly put millions of Americans back to work.
BlueGreen Alliance Releases Principles for Cap-and-Trade Legislation Necessary to Put Americans Back to Work
MINNEAPOLIS (March 27, 2009) Four labor unions and two environmental organizations today announced their support for comprehensive cap-and-trade climate change legislation in 2009. The BlueGreen Alliance and its partner organizations said this legislation is an effective way to rapidly put millions of Americans back to work building a clean energy economy and to reduce global warming emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
“We believe that climate change legislation is a critical step to jumpstarting the U.S. economy,” said Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers. “And we agree that the U.S. must significantly reduce our emissions, something we can accomplish by retaining and creating millions of family-sustaining green jobs in the clean energy economy.”
The BlueGreen Alliance supports a reduction of U.S. emissions by at least 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, and supports a renewed U.S. effort to forge a global treaty to reduce worldwide emissions by 50 percent by that same date. To meet these goals, domestic climate change legislation should reduce U.S. emissions significantly below 2005 levels by 2020, with individual partners advocating targets ranging from 14 to 25 percent.
“This agreement is one more sign of the growing consensus around the urgency of action on climate change,” said Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Environmentalists and labor groups are working together, standing side-by-side, and presenting a path forward for strong action on global warming that will repower our economy and protect our planet’s future.”
The labor-environmental partnership also said climate change legislation must address several critical issues. Job loss from international competition can be avoided with allowance allocations to energy-intensive industries and border-adjustment mechanisms. Rising energy costs to low- and moderate-income Americans and adversely-impacted regions can be offset with rebates or tax credits. The Alliance also supports complementary regulation, including standards for renewable energy, energy efficiency resources and fuel and appliance efficiency.
In addition, climate change legislation should include investments in a wide range of technologies – including carbon, capture and sequestration technology – and federal financing for the transition to a clean energy economy.
“Meeting the challenge to tackle climate change will allow us to build a clean energy economy right here in the United States – making the parts for wind and solar power and fuel efficient vehicles are just some examples,” said Jim Clark, President of IUE-CWA, the Industrial Division of the Communications Workers of America. “The economic and climate crises afford us an opportunity to create good, middle-class green jobs.”
“We can choose a new direction for our country – making a clean energy economy the foundation for putting people back to work building America,” said Terence M. O’Sullivan, General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). “We have the workers and the skills, and now we need action to build on the green programs of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”
The consensus reached by the BlueGreen Alliance partners also said that allowances should be auctioned or used for public purposes and that the legislation should link its solutions to a broad agenda for economic opportunities that engages high-unemployment communities first and funds training and transition needs.
“We have a unique opportunity to be part of the solution and to improve the lives of working people and their families for generations to come,” said Gerry Hudson, International Executive Vice President of SEIU. “It is our duty to ensure that legislation develops a cap-and-trade system that connects environmental justice to economic justice in a way that supports communities across America and creates good, green jobs.”
Finally, BlueGreen Alliance partners said climate change legislation should help fund a clean energy economic development model for developing and emerging economies and fund adaptation measures that provide solutions to those immediately impacted by global warming both domestically and internationally.
“We share the common goal that climate change legislation is necessary to confront our greatest economic and environmental challenges,” said Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “Standing together to advocate legislation that aggressively reduces U.S. emissions while creating good jobs is essential to building a broad consensus in this country around a clean energy economy.”
“The significance of this statement cannot be overstated,” said David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “For the first time, a substantial number of unions representing workers across a broad section of the American economy have endorsed the principle that the way out of our current economic turmoil is through major investments in solving global warming. The labor and environmental movements have truly embraced a common vision for the future.”
The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the green economy. Launched by the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club in 2006, the BlueGreen Alliance has since grown to include the Communications Workers of America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Laborers’ International Union of North America and Service Employees International Union – uniting more than 6 million people in pursuit of good jobs, a clean environment and a green economy. The BlueGreen Alliance is also an initial partner in the Alliance for Climate Protection, founded by Vice President Al Gore.