Labour and Environmentalists in the U.S. – Recent Developments

On the eve of the AFL-CIO 2013 Convention in September, the Climate Justice Alliance sent an open letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, to “implore Labor to join us in the fight against climate change.” (See http://www.ourpowercampaign.org/an-open-letter-to-the-afl-cio/).

Appealing for collaboration, the letter acknowledges the debt of all working people to the labour movement, and credits it for its skills in grassroots activism. Thus, “the environmental justice movement cannot halt climate change without organized labor. We need each other to win.” The letter concludes, “We request a meeting with the AFL-CIO leadership to discuss the Federation’s response to climate change and how to strengthen our collective struggles.” The AFL-CIO Convention website is at: http://www.aflcio.org/About/Exec-Council/Conventions/2013; their most recent Executive Council Statement on Energy and Jobs (Feb. 26, 2013) is at: http://www.aflcio.org/About/Exec-Council/EC-Statements/Statement-on-Energy-and-Jobs, with context and analysis about that statement by the Labor Network for Sustainability at: http://www.labor4sustainability.org/articles/labor-climate-and-the-kxl-interpreting-the-new-afl-cio-statement-on-energy-and-jobs/.

For more context, see “Will closer Partnership between Labor and Greens Help Build Both Movements?” at the Sierra Club website at: http://sierraclub.typepad.com/compass/2013/09/will-closer-partnership-between-labor-and-greens-help-build-both-movements.html, and also “When Fighting for Coal Plants is absolutely the Right Thing to Do”, at the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy website at: http://energydemocracyinitiative.org/when-fighting-to-save-a-coal-plant-is-absolutely-the-right-thing-to-do/

Naomi Klein Calls on Green Groups to Join the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement

Citing the growing campaign for divestment from fossil fuel companies, Naomi Klein asks the question:Shouldn’t environmental organizations be more concerned about the human and ecological risks posed by fossil fuel companies than they are by some imagined risks to their stock portfolios?” In an article in The Nation, she names the names of the green organizations which are “part owners of the industry causing the crisis they are purportedly trying to solve”. She also names the organizations which are not, including “Greenpeace, 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Rainforest Action Network, and a host of smaller organizations like Oil Change International and the Climate Reality Project.”  Read http://www.thenation.com/article/174143/time-big-green-go-fossil-free# ,  reprinted as “It’s time for environmental groups to divest from fossil fuels” (May 2) at Rabble.ca at http://rabble.ca/columnists/2013/05/its-time-environmental-groups-to-divest-fossil-fuels

U.S. Industry and Environmental Groups Join to Create the Center for Sustainable Shale Development

In late March, 2013, the following groups announced their cooperation to create the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD): Chevron; Clean Air Task Force; CONSOL Energy; Environmental Defense Fund; EQT Corporation; Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP); Heinz Endowments; Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future; Pennsylvania Environmental Council; Shell; and the William Penn Foundation.

The CCSD website at: http://037186e.netsolhost.com/site/ describes the group as: “an unprecedented collaboration built on constructive engagement among environmental organizations, philanthropic foundations and energy companies from across the Appalachian Basin…The result of this unique collaboration: the development of rigorous performance standards for sustainable shale development and a commitment to continuous improvement to ensure safe and environmentally responsible development of our abundant shale resources.”