09/19/2014 11:32 am ET Updated Nov 19, 2014

The People's Climate March: A Clarion Call for Action

Climate change is real and too many of us have been impacted by it personally. Two years ago, when Hurricane Sandy battered the East Coast causing billions in damage and taking lives, we experienced the devastation that a changing climate brings with it. We saw the loss of life, homes destroyed in a matter of minutes, and roads and bridges washed away. Many workers experienced the fury of climate change first hand, they were on the front lines repairing the electrical grid, draining subway tunnels, or treating people injured by flooding and high winds.

That's why the BlueGreen Alliance, as well as over 1,000 other organizations and thousands of individuals, are taking part in the People's Climate March this weekend, on September 21, in New York City--in the region that saw the worst impacts from Hurricane Sandy two years ago. Just days ahead of an important international climate change meeting of world leaders, including President Obama, the March is a clarion call from the American public to our leaders--and leaders of other nations--that America must be ready to lead the charge to address climate change. By doing so, we will also lead the way for our economy to grow--creating family-sustaining jobs in industries that deliver cleaner energy, more efficient transportation and transit systems, and more energy efficient goods and products.

As United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, "Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth ... these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women's empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all."

Our environment and economy are being left by the wayside because Congress is spending more of its time naming post offices than working to find solutions to immediately address climate change. While President Obama has taken positive steps forward by introducing and beginning the implementation of his Climate Action Plan, Congressional inaction is endangering communities and opportunities for American workers. The People's Climate March is our chance to amplify our voices to find an immediate solution to the growing and immediate threat of climate change.

Updating, modernizing, and preparing our infrastructure systems--including transit, roads and bridges, the electrical grid, water and communications systems, and more--to be ready for the challenges of a changing climate will create family-sustaining jobs in construction, manufacturing, and other economic sectors. These are real jobs for workers addressing a real problem in climate change.

Making these systems more efficient will also help address the underlying cause of climate change--excess carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas emissions. For example, a recent report by the AFL-CIO and the BlueGreen Alliance found reducing the methane emissions--a potent greenhouse gas--from our natural gas distribution pipelines by repairing the most leak-prone pipes at an accelerated pace over the next decade would prevent an additional 81 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the atmosphere. That's roughly equivalent to taking 17 million cars off the road for one year--all while creating 313,000 jobs for people, nearly 250,000 more jobs created than in the 30-year repair and replacement scenario.

Yes, Americans are frustrated by inaction on climate change. That frustration is leading to action--like the People's Climate March. We hope you can join us in New York City. But, if you can't, you can send a message to President Obama to let him know how important it is that we take action now on climate change and that he should bring all of our voices to the table when he attends the international climate summit just a few days after the March.