|Labor Unions, Environmental Organizations Urge Passage of Climate Change Legislation in 2009|
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 Blue Green 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.
You can read the policy statement online at www.bluegreenalliance.org.
"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 Blue Green 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
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 Blue Green 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, BGA partners said that climate change legislation should help to 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 Blue Green 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 Blue Green 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, BGA 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 six
million people in pursuit of good jobs, a clean environment and a green economy.
BGA is also an initial partner in the Alliance for Climate Protection, founded
by Vice President Al Gore.