Blue Green is True Green

There are probably not many instances when in the normal course of conversation one would mention the United Steel Workers and the Sierra Club in the same sentence. But, thanks to a project of the Public Health Institute, that has changed. The project, called the Blue Green Alliance, was founded in 2006, and is a "strategic partnership of the United Steelworkers, North America’s largest manufacturing union, and the 1.3 million members and supporters of the Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization." It focuses on three key issues: Global Warming and Clean Energy; Fair Trade; and Reducing Toxics. The name, "Blue Green Alliance," is meant to represent blue collar/labor organizations and green, or environmentally-focused, organizations.

Blue Green Alliance is currently concentrating efforts in six states -- Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin -- with plans to expand to additional states in 2008. According to its website, the goals of the BGA are to:
- Heighten public awareness about the job-creating potential of solutions to global warming;
- Use existing economic development tools to expand investment in clean energy and green chemistry;
- Accelerate green building, energy efficient retrofits, and related spin-off industries;
- Create more investments in green jobs, including those related to fuel-efficient vehicles; and
- Reform trade agreements so they include binding labor rights and environmental standards.
To acheive these goals, in each focus state the BGA program features a series of Town Hall meetings, establishment of a Blue Green Roundtable for dialogue among environmental and labor leaders, endorsement of the US Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement by additional mayors, and research reports promoting investment in renewable energy and green chemistry.

In April, the Alliance announced its "Green Jobs for America" campaign, focusing on "growing the economy and creating new jobs through investments in clean, renewable energy and trade reform." The basis for this campaign is outlined in a report, "Job Opportunities for the Green Economy," which, "makes clear that millions of U.S. workers-across a wide range of familiar occupations, states, and income and skill levels-will all benefit from a movement to defeat global warming and transform the United States into a green economy."

These "green collar" jobs and partnerships such as the Blue Green Alliance are our best hope for transforming a climate change crisis into an opportunity for leadership and growth. The Blue Green Alliance has joined up with the We Campaign to promote its efforts through local town hall meetings. Find out if the Alliance is working in your neighborhood, and join the campaign for a green economy.

Caroline Heine

Posted at 7:52 AM, Jul 09, 2008 in Cross-Sectoral Strategies | Economic Development | Environment | Social Entreprenuers | Permalink | Comment