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How the Green New Deal from Below Integrates Diverse Constituencies

By Jeremy Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, February 2, 2024

Green New Deal initiatives at local, state, regional, and civil society levels around the country have drawn together diverse, sometimes isolated, or even conflicted constituencies around common programs for climate, jobs, and justice. How have they done so?

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Kingspan Campaign Update: Environmental Groups Stand with Workers Calling out Greenwashing

By Veronica Wilson - Labor Network for Sustainabilty, January 30, 2024

Workers calling out greenwashing inspired 26 environmental and environmental justice groups to call for an investigation into Kingspan’s marketing claims. LNS moderated a call last month, inviting allies to hear directly about safety violations and exposure to toxic materials at Kingspan plants in California. Now local and national organizations—including the California Green New Deal Coalition, Communities for a Better Environment, Center on Race Poverty and the Environment, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles, Greenpeace USA, 350.org, Food and Water Watch, among others—have issued a public letter calling on SCS Global Services to investigate the claims made by insulation manufacturer Kingspan in an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for its star product, QuadCore insulated metal panels. You can help spread the word and watch for more actions with workers calling out greenwashing—follow and like #CleanupKingspan today!

A Win on Divestment is a Win for California Communities

By Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr, Carlos Davidson, Luis Angel Martinez, Fatima Iqbal-Zubair, Ra’mauri Cash, and Bill McKibben - Fossil Free California, February 28, 2024

Twenty-Six Environmental Groups Call for Investigation into Kingspan’s Marketing Claims 

By staff - Clean Up Kingspan, January 22, 2024

Over two dozen environmental and community organizations – including Greenpeace, 350.org, Food and Water Watch, and the California Green New Deal Coalition – have issued a public letter calling on SCS Global Services to investigate the completeness and accuracy of claims made by insulation manufacturer Kingspan in an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for its star product, QuadCore insulated metal panels. SCS Global provided the third-party verification for the QuadCore EPD in 2022, but it has since acknowledged that it was not required to and did not perform a site audit to verify the information Kingspan submitted. 

Kingspan is a $15 billion global manufacturer of building products which presents itself as “Planet Passionate.” California-based SCS Global Services is one of the leading players offering environmental labeling and certification services including Fair Trade and Carbon Neutral Certifications.

In their open letter, the green groups note that the EPD omits mention of certain labor- and waste-intensive manufacturing processes that were at the center of an OSHA complaint filed by Kingspan workers in September 2023. This apparent omission is raising concerns that the increased demand for products with EPDs and the lack of site audits by third-party verifiers may be presenting an opportunity for greenwashing. 

Workforce and Env Justice: Local Advocacy Sets the Standards for Community Choice energy agencies

Big Oil's Dark Money Ad Campaign Exposed

By Staff - Center for Biological Diversity, January 8, 2024

This is an ongoing pillar of the fossil fuel industry’s playbook in California: front groups organized and funded by the oil companies masquerade as “broad coalitions” of concerned citizens and business representatives but are functionally opaque entities with a single mission: furthering the oil and gas industry’s agenda in the state.

Usually organized as 501(c)(4) nonprofits (“social welfare organizations”), such groups are referred to as “dark money” because they’re able to spend money on certain types of campaigns without revealing their donors. Under California law, these types of groups are legally permitted to spend funds on “issue advocacy” campaigns without revealing their donors.

Because these “issue advocacy” campaigns don’t explicitly advocate for or against ballot measures or referenda, millions of dollars can be spent to subtly influence voters without disclosing the true funders behind the messaging campaign. Because of the lack of donor disclosure, we refer to these groups as “dark money groups.”

This report profiles three such groups that have been actively pushing an oil industry ad campaign to promote anti-SB1137 talking points (higher gas prices, losing good jobs, foreign oil); all three track back to the California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA) and to the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the top lobbyist for the oil industry in the western United States.

Download a copy of this publication here (link).

Dying in the Fields as Temperatures Soar

By Liza Gross and Peter Aldhous - Inside Climate News, December 31, 2023

Scores of California farmworkers are dying in the heat in regions with chronically bad air, even in a state with one of the toughest heat standards in the nation.

For most of July 2019, stifling heat hung over the agricultural fields of California’s Central Valley, as farmworkers like William Salas Jiminez labored under the sun’s searing rays. Temperatures had dipped from 99 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit the last day of the month, when the 56-year-old Puerto Rico native was installing irrigation tubing in an almond orchard near Arvin, at the valley’s southern edge. 

Around 1:30 that afternoon Salas sat down to rest. When he stood up to go back to work, he suddenly collapsed. An hour and a half later, he was dead. Reports filed with the U.S. Department of Occupational Health and Safety, or OSHA, say Salas died of a heart attack.

Salas’ death certificate lists atherosclerotic heart disease as the immediate cause of death. But it also lists “extreme heat exposure” and obesity as significant contributors. Both heart disease and obesity increase the risk of fatal heatstroke.

Labor unions are still giving Democrats climate headaches

By Alex Nieves - Politico, December 4, 2023

One of California’s most powerful unions is not loosening its grip on oil jobs.

Despite the Biden administration and California lawmakers pouring billions of dollars into new climate-friendly industries like electric vehicles, hydrogen and building electrification, a key player in state politics is still defending fossil fuel interests that provide thousands of well-paying jobs.

President Joe Biden’s investment in clean energy sectors through a pair of massive spending bills — which promise lucrative tax credits for projects that pay union wages — was supposed to speed up the labor transition away from oil and gas. That hasn’t happened in deep-blue California, home to the country’s most ambitious climate policies — and most influential labor unions.

“We believe we’re still going to be working in the oil and gas space for the foreseeable future,” said Chris Hannan, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, which represents nearly 500,000 members across dozens of local unions, from pipefitting to electrical work.

Unions’ longstanding — and well-founded — distrust of the renewable energy industry as a reliable source of labor-friendly jobs is slowing the “just transition” that Biden, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic leaders around the country have pushed.

With federal officials trying to get clean energy funding out as fast as possible ahead of the 2024 election, and California politicians cracking down on the fossil fuel industry, unions’ reluctance to relinquish fossil fuel jobs undermines Democrats’ aggressive climate targets, according to a lawmaker who serves both a union- and oil-rich area of the state.

While the union embrace of fossil fuels is unique to California — one of the few blue states with significant oil production — the struggle highlights a larger question over how states can quickly build massive amounts of clean energy infrastructure without undercutting labor.

A New California Coalition of Labor Unions for Climate Jobs

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, December 2023

In October this year, California Labor for Climate Jobs (CLCJ) launched as a new, state-wide coalition of fourteen California labor unions with express intent to promote a worker-led transition to a just and climate-safe economy. As a coalition of unions, CLCJ is uniquely pro-worker and pro-climate, and represents teachers, oil workers, utility workers, domestic workers, healthcare workers, city, county and state employees, farmworkers, janitors, autoworkers and more. CLCJ unions include a broad array of workers who are experiencing the impact of climate change. 

“As a home childcare provider in Fairfield, I have worked through power outages, extreme heat, and hazardous smoke that endangered me and the kids I care for,” said Allison Davis, a member of United Domestic Workers. “We are calling for strong smoke and heat standards, disaster insurance and rights for workers in disaster zones so that these conditions don’t become the new normal for workers.”

Climate also impacts airport workers, for example, who clean airplane cabins between flights, toiling in tight spaces with no air conditioning, which increases their vulnerability to illness and death in extreme heat. And at the same time, oil workers face job loss as climate policies move to phase out the fossil fuel sector and shift to renewable energy. With 2023 as the hottest summer on record, the region’s first-ever National Weather Service tropical storm watch, and billions of dollars lost annually to floods and wildfires, more action is needed in Sacramento to reach the state’s climate goals and protect workers.

 This fall, CLCJ released the California Worker Climate Bill of Rights, calling on legislators to enact policy solutions that will protect workers from climate hazards such as extreme heat, fires, smoke and floods that have endangered the livelihood and health of a broad cross section of California workers. Members in the coalition have pledged to stand in solidarity with each other as they fight for a worker-led transition to be able to make a living on a healthy, living planet. 

LA Times Coverage by Sammy Roth: https://calaborforclimatejobs.org/boiling-point-can-climate-activists-and-labor-unions-find-common-ground/ 

For more on California Labor for Climate Jobs: https://calaborforclimatejobs.org/

For the California Worker Climate Bill of Rights: California Worker Climate Bill of Rights

The Green New Deal and the Politics of the Possible

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