With our constant demand for instantaneous delivery of digital communications through smartphones, tablets, high-tech watches, Google Glass and, coming soon, The Internet of Things, it’s not surprising that the United States is second only to China in the world’s electricity consumption.
Global energy use will increase by 35 percent in the next 25 years, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Clean Energy program. Unmitigated, worldwide energy use contributes to roughly 70 percent of global carbon emissions.
In light of these concerns, a growing number of organizations and industries have taken interest in the “clean economy”: a sector of the economy that produces goods and services with the goal of bettering the environment.
The annual Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference, now in its seventh year, has become a leading forum for growing a clean economy with jobs that preserve America’s economic and environmental integrity. The 2014 conference will take place Feb. 10 and 11 in Washington, D.C. This year’s conference theme is “Repair America,” with a focus on fixing what conference director Samantha Sewell calls “the backbone of our country” — the infrastructure and systems we rely on for energy, water, emergency assistance, public education and more.
Repairing these systems can ensure the health and safety of workplaces and reduce our dependence on nonrenewable energy, in turn creating jobs and helping America remain competitive in the global economy.
Panel discussions on the conference schedule include America’s infrastructure deficit, how trade agreements can undermine our communities and our environment, and understanding the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act of 2013. Featured keynote speakers include Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation, and Richard L. Trumka, president of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).
Ninety-minute workshops will cover topics such as building green schools, sustainability and the bottom line, making a living in a sustainable economy, advanced fossil fuels and their role in a lower-carbon future, and much more.
Perhaps most importantly, the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference offers the chance to rub elbows with like-minded movers and shakers.
“Every year, I come away from the conference having met people that inspired me with the work they are doing in their home states and cities to build a better future for all of us,” wrote Sewell in a recent post for the Talking Union blog. “The networking reception — and the many other breaks, workshops and events — [offers] opportunities to meet new people and become inspired, or just catch up with old friends.”
Feature photo: Keith Mellnick/Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference