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Climate Equity Alliance establishes principles for green economic reform

By Climate Guest Contributor  

"Climate Equity Alliance establishes principles for green economic reform"


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[Brad Johnson's post is reprinted from Wonk Room.]

As corporate lobbyists and conservative politicians strive to maintain a pollution-based economy, a new progressive alliance has formed to fight back.

The Climate Equity Alliance is calling for policies to ensure that energy legislation reaches President Obama’s desk benefiting people instead of polluters. The green economy legislation introduced in draft form by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) “” sets national standards for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and global warming pollution “” but leaves open whether polluters will be subsidized to achieve those standards.

Today, more than two dozen organizations from the research, advocacy, faith-based, labor and civil rights communities came together as the Climate Equity Alliance. Alliance members include the Center for American Progress, Green for All, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the Service Employees International Union. Their principles recognize that clean energy legislation needs to be sustainable, honest, and fair:

- Protect people and the planet: Limit carbon emissions at a level and timeline that science dictates.

- Maximize the gain: Build an inclusive green economy providing pathways into prosperity and expanding opportunity for America’s workers and communities.

- Minimize the pain: Assist low and moderate income families in meeting their basic needs.

- Shore up resilience to climate impacts: Assure that those who are most vulnerable to the direct effects of climate change are able to prepare and adapt.

- Ease the transition: Address the impacts of economic change for workers and communities.

- Put a price on global warming pollution and invest in solutions: Capture the value of carbon emissions for public purposes and invest this resource in an equitable transition to a clean energy economy.

The Climate Equity Alliance’s recognition that attention needs to be paid to global boiling impacts is critical, as every state in the nation already suffers from major climate-related costs “” costs which will continue to rise as the planet heats up. The full list of members is below.

The alliance specifically calls for “public and private investments that help rebuild and retrofit our nation,” “training and job readiness programs,” “direct consumer rebates” to low- and moderate-income households, “assistance and tools” for workers in carbon-intense industries, and the use of carbon price revenues to invest in the public good, instead of “windfall profits for corporations.”

On Friday, a separate coalition of state-level climate and environmental justice organizations will speak out in support of Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s Cap and Dividend Act (H.R. 1862), introduced last week. Van Hollen’s proposal calls for all revenues of a cap and trade system to be returned in flat rebate to all citizens. Social entrepreneur Peter Barnes, a prominent advocate of the “dividend” approach, has explained how these rebates reward efficiency:

Those who burn more carbon will pay more than those who burn less. If you drive a sports-utility vehicle, you’ll use more sky than if you ride a bus; hence you’ll pay more scarcity rent. Since your dividend is the same no matter what, you’ll come out ahead if you conserve [energy] and lose money if you don’t.

Despite Barnes’ misguided, libertarian reasoning that cap and dividend is needed because government can’t be trusted to invest money in the public good, the proposal does reward work instead of pollution. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has calculated, allocating 14 percent of cap-and-trade revenues makes the transition to clean energy a positive economic gain for low- and moderate-income households “” even before the rewards of a healthier economy and planet are delivered. President Obama’s plan to fund a middle-class tax cut with climate revenues also ensures at least $15 billion a year are allocated for green public investment.

Legislators return to Washington with a week of hearings on the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act on April 20th, less than two weeks away.

Founding members of the Climate Equity Alliance:

  • Center for American Progress
  • Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Citizens for Tax Justice
  • Center for Law and Social Policy
  • Coalition on Human Needs
  • Democracia Ahora
  • Economic Policy Institute
  • Enterprise Community Partners
  • First Focus
  • Green For All
  • National Hispanic Environmental Council
  • National Low Income Housing Coalition
  • Oxfam America
  • Policy Link
  • Redefining Progress
  • Service Employees International Union
  • The Workforce Alliance
  • Union for Reform Judaism
  • United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • US Action
  • The Washington Office of Public Policy, Women’s Division, United Methodist Church
  • Wider Opportunities for Women

Organizations supporting cap and dividend:

  • Montana Environmental Information Center (MT)
  • Fresh Energy (MN)
  • Penn Future (PA)
  • New Energy Economy (NM)
  • Center for Civic Policy (NM)
  • Climate Protection Campaign (CA)
  • Chesapeake Climate Action Network (MD/VA/DC)
  • Plains Justice (IA)
  • New York Public Interest Research Group (NY)
  • South Carolina Coastal Conservation League (SC)
  • Ohio Citizen Action (OH)
Update: At the Huffington Post, Green For All president Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins explains that the Climate Equity Alliance represents how choosing between “environment vs. the economy — is a false choice”:

Strong climate legislation can, and must, be strong economic legislation.

If done right, climate policy can fight pollution and alleviate poverty at the same time. The shift to a low-carbon, clean, green economy can create large numbers of quality green-collar jobs for American workers, and lower energy bills for American households. A federal climate bill must deliberately advance principles of fairness, opportunity, and equal access.

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5 Responses to Climate Equity Alliance establishes principles for green economic reform

  1. Kipp Alpert says:

    Thank God:While President Bush was literally destroying all the information put forward before him about warnings of Climate Change,(from his own scientists) the Pentagon had just given Bush what there plan was in case of riots, if this warming threat was true.Finally we all have a friend in the White House that cares more about people, more than the amount of money is his wallet.Suffice it to say,Bush never figured that Global Warming could be a profitable endeavor, because then he would act. I think that hits to the heart of the denialist agenda, money before mankind, cause I’m going to be dead anyway. Denialists don’t understand Global Warming,because they haven’t taken the time to learn the Science. They are here for their politics and think that Global Warming, is a touchy feely kind of one world order thing.Communism, through the United Nations,LOL. Once they can see the greenbacks they will be greener than Ed Begly Jr. on his exercise bike, to make enough electricity for his toast. Green will become sexy. What I dislike most about deniers is that they have no respect for Science or Scientists.These guy’s spend their whole lives to find one truth only to find when they are old that someone discovered what they did before them. They deserve our respect and support. Dr. James Hansen the lead Author of Target CO2 which is online is a beautiful paper. In order to be extra honest he didn’t use models, as deniers say they are not reliable, even though they are tested for bias. Well their computers work in overdrive and fall quickly on the mark. He used empirical data and if you haven’t read it you should. It definitely will put a spring in your step, if you don’t have the motivation thing going already. Well we won a huge battle but we haven’t won the War. When you see a beautiful painting, or get a kick out of Hallelujah around Christmas, think of what good men have done, and hang in there for the next battle is just around the corner. Happpy Easter,KIPP

  2. I recently read Gus Speth’s The Bridge at the End of the World, and one of the things he emphasizes is the importance of integrating environmentalism into a broader social justice framework. It’s great to see that happening more and more in practice.

  3. Joel says:

    Seeing Ohio Citizen Action on that list really does my heart good. This Alliance’s message will be essential to creating a broad-based and vocal movement for joint economic and ecological recovery in the Midwest. Northern Ohio has been dealing with recession conditions for decades now, and I’m hopeful that when we begin to see green jobs revitalizing the region’s communities other areas will start to realize that climate action means prosperity and security (assuming 100% auctions and responsible revenue distribution), not ruin. I’m disappointed though to see that ‘typical’ environmental organizations are largely absent from the line-up. While Sierra Club’s blue-green alliance is admirable, it would be nice to see them lending their support to this particular message; it’s one more climate advocates need to get comfortable with.

  4. PJM says:

    “Strong climate legislation can, and must, be strong economic legislation.”

    It would be unwise for it to be otherwise.
    Conversely, the Republican and conservative attempts to do things that are good for the economy, or avoid high economic costs in over-regulation, should not be viewed as bad for the environment. In the end, we can only pay for environmental stewardship on the strength of our economic resources.

    “If done right, climate policy can fight pollution and alleviate poverty at the same time.”

    An example of this would be supporting safe, economical, emissions-free nuclear power. An example that goes against this would be an exensive, unworkable and counter-productive ‘cap-and-trade’ scheme that would prone to corruption, waste, and would impose huge energy costs on consumers.

  5. Gail says:

    PJM, Pulease go up to the search box on Joe’s blog, type in nuclear power, and read up on it.

    If anyone cares to make a small donation here:


    you will get a window asking you to post for the website why you contributed. Here’s what I said:

    I am petrified about the consequences of climate chaos. Please put green energy (solar, wind, and geothermal) front and center. Without a habitable environment, nothing else matters.

    I worked in education for many years because I thought that ultimately it is the way to solve other problems.

    But now, the science and empirical evidence is overwhelming that if we do not stop carbon emissions – like, yesterday – we are going to condemn our children to an unimaginably horrible future.