Investors and Labor Leaders Find Hope for Workers in Recovery Efforts to Build Back a More Sustainable Economy

Jun 15, 2020 11:55 AM ET
Campaign: Ceres Conference

At a recent Ceres 2020 digital session, Building Back Better: Opportunities for Jobs and Economic Recovery in Clean Technology and Sustainable Infrastructure, Senior Director of the Ceres Investor Network, Rev. Kirsten Snow Spalding was joined by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO of PensionDanmark to discuss the opportunities to advance worker rights, safety and jobs while transitioning to a low-carbon economy, all amid the current coronavirus pandemic gripping the planet. 

Trumka opened the session by connecting the dots between the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis -- noting the similarly devastating impacts both crises are having on workers’ well-being. The economic inequities that have pervaded in the past, he noted, must be rectified for a just and sustainable future. This can be accomplished by creating what he called a ‘‘politics of hope.”

He also reiterated the AFL-CIO's support for the Paris Climate Agreement but warned that “there is no way to have a real global solution to climate until the principles of a just transition are not just words in a climate treaty, but a reality across the multilateral system." 

To help accomplish such a reality, Trumka highlighted the work of the Labor Energy Partnership, a pledge based on a shared commitment of the AFL-CIO and the Energy Futures Initiative to advance federal, regional and state energy policies that promote equity based on quality jobs and the preservation of workers’ rights, while also addressing the growing climate crisis. He cited East Coast offshore wind power development as the best example of this pledge in action, calling it "a turning point of the fight against climate change in the U.S.". It’s a turning point not just due to the huge amount of carbon-neutral power it will generate, but because of the potential for a new viable workplace model that, he believes, "can be the stable political and economic foundation of the great transformation that we must make to a low-carbon economy."

Trumka was joined by Pedersen, CEO of PensionDanmark, one of the 50 largest pension funds in Europe and supporter of the Labor Energy Partnership with Trumka. 

During their conversation, Pedersen talked about his fund’s dedication to renewable energy and labor concerns. He then announced that PensionDanmark supports the concept of a Sustainable and Just Transition pledge put forward recently by the CEOs of The Investor Agenda. The fund is currently in discussion with its partners about announcing a commitment to the pledge soon.