Issued December 12, 2015
WASHINGTON—In response to the agreement that has emerged from the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris (COP21), Mary Kay Henry, International President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:
“The Paris agreement is an important step forward for SEIU’s 2 million members, for working families around the world and for future generations.
“Our members are part of the largest healthcare and service-sector union in America, so no one knows the impact of environmental damage on our well-being better than SEIU nurses, doctors, healthcare staff and caregivers. The pollution that leads to climate change also leads to childhood and adult asthma and respiratory ailments. The weather shifts and disasters brought on by climate change cause droughts, floods and fires that devastate communities and spread vector-borne diseases that fill hospital beds. No neighborhood, no workplace, no setting where our families are is unaffected by climate change.
“The agreement is ambitious in reducing pollution-causing greenhouse gases, setting a goal and structure to keep the planet below 1.5°C of warming. The agreement also made significant progress toward assisting developing nations to fund their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By ensuring transparency and verification, the agreement attempts to hold nations accountable for meeting their commitments. Recognition of human rights and the need for a ‘just transition’ for impacted workers is acknowledged and strongly worded in the preamble of the agreement. While we had hoped that the provisions would be in the body of the agreement, this is a significant step forward for working people.
“SEIU has stood with civil society – labor, environment, human rights, youth, gender equality, indigenous groups and others – by marching in the streets, calling leaders and signing petitions. People everywhere created this moment by uniting and taking action, and now we must continue to push forward here in the U.S. to reduce carbon emissions.“Working families in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico are grateful for President Obama’s leadership, which has led to an agreement that gives us a chance to stop climate change before it’s too late.”