WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Sierra Club’s Michael Brune delivered one of the keynote addresses on repairing America’s infrastructure with green jobs Monday afternoon at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs annual conference, put on by the Blue Green Alliance, a coalition of unions and environmental non-profit groups. With more than 15 million members through 14 affiliated organizations, 10 unions and 4 major environmental groups, it is a growing political force to be reckoned with in Washington and around the country.
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“Our country — and in fact the entire world — has to achieve an extraordinary goal, and we have less and less time in which to do it. We need to recreate our economy with clean energy that takes the place of fossil fuels,” Brune said. “Everybody here knows it’s going to be a challenge to do that. But we must.”
The ultimate rewards for all of humanity when we achieve that goal will be “greater than we can imagine.”
“The Sierra Club is 100 percent committed to creating an economy that is 100 percent powered with clean energy,” he said. “It will be the most important thing we’ve ever been part of. Greater than the creation of our national parks … than protecting the redwoods in North California … Than protecting the Arctic … than all of the bedrock environmental laws that protect our air, water and wildlife.”
On the other hand, a “failure to stop climate disruption would overshadow every one of those monumental achievements.”
“Success,” however, “will bring lasting benefits and be enjoyed by generations. Yet if we pursue this goal blindly, we cannot succeed. If we pursue this goal without considering how it affects people as well as the planet we will have failed.”
The transition to clean energy is already creating fantastic economic opportunities.
“But if those opportunities are kept beyond the reach of workers and families who built the old economy, then the new economy will have failed,” he said. “Any clean energy economy must include a fair and just transition that does not leave American workers and communities behind.”
As the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka said in the morning session, he reiterated, “we have to fight climate change and inequality with both fists. Failure to do one or the other will mean that we will fail in our efforts to achieve both.”
© 2014, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.