- Ariel Bond/Daily
BY MALLORY BEBERMAN
Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 23, 2009
Early yesterday morning about two dozen University students embarked on a six-hour bus ride to Point State Park in Pittsburgh. They were on a mission to bring their concerns about climate policy to attention of, banking officials and business leaders from around the world who were in town for the G-20 Summit.
The rally precedes the G-20 Summit — a meeting between both industrial and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability — which will be held in Pittsburgh today and tomorrow.
According to a press release distributed by The Alliance for Climate Protection, the rally's goal is to promote the passage of comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation that will provide millions of jobs, help end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and aid in a solution to the climate crisis — all at the same time.
The rally is a collaboration of The Alliance for Climate Protection’s Repower America campaign, the United Steelworkers and the Blue Green Alliance’s Clean Energy Jobs Tour. The tour has been on the road for a month, hosting 50 events in 22 states.
Luke Canfora, the Michigan director for Repower Michigan, said the campaign was started as part of former Vice President Al Gore’s organization to promote climate change.
“We are a grassroots-driven organization supporting federal climate change legislation,” Canfora said.
Canfora works with Repower America to recruit members, generate support for federal climate change legislation and educate the public about the urgency of comprehensive reform.
“We want to see an end to our dependence on foreign oil and the creation of essentially a whole new sector of jobs in America,” Canfora said.
He explained that clean energy jobs are very similar to things Michigan’s workforce already does every day. He said clean energy jobs range from the people who build things like solar panels, windmills and solar batteries to the people who operate them, sell them and make the components for them.
“The No. 1 way to create energy is efficiency,” Canfora said.
LSA freshman Nikki McIntyre attended the rally and said she made the trip to learn more about the ways in which the United States can promote clean energy jobs and what she as an individual can do to help.
“The rally is just there to raise awareness and get people involved and let the government know that we want action to be taken,” McIntyre said.
Canfora said he hoped the rally would demonstrate to leaders gathered in Pittsburgh how critical it is for the world to create clean energy jobs.
Besides making their voices heard and their numbers seen, the rally's attendees also got to enjoy musical performances and hear from keynote speakers.
Performances by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and country singer Kathy Mattea entertained the crowd while prominent figures like Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers; Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club; Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO; and Maggie Fox, CEO and president of the Alliance for Climate Protection, offered their perspectives on a green energy economy.
McIntyre said the musical performances were both "great" and "diverse."
"It brought all these people together from different walks of life and everyone was just having a good time together," McIntyre said, adding the politicians and other leaders who spoke at the event were also interesting.
Canfora expressed said Gerard’s presence had at the rally was a big deal.
“I think that with Mr. Gerard, the president of the United Steelworkers, you can’t think of anything more blue collar and more labor and frankly more American worker than the steel workers and to see them say that our future is in the green economy and that we need to go in that direction, I think that’s very poignant," Canfora said.
McIntyre said attending the rally was fun and energizing, but also provided a valuable educational experience.
"I learned a lot about how our economy can turn towards new sources for jobs," McIntyre said. "We can also keep the jobs that we have right now and keep the qualified people working and just apply them to green jobs."
Asked whether she thought the rally accomplished everything the group hoped it would, McIntyre said she thought it did.
"I think they met their goal despite some of the obstacles they had to overcome," she said. "It’s still continuing on for the rest of the week so there's more to come."