AFT Resolution

A JUST TRANSITION TO 100 PERCENT RENEWABLE ENERGY

WHEREAS, the 2016 American Federation of Teachers Convention referred to the AFT executive council a resolution,  “A Just Transition to a Peaceful and Sustainable Economy,” which the AFT executive council  adopted on Feb. 3, 2017; and

WHEREAS, the above resolution noted, among other points, that:

  1. The overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate warming trends over the past century are due to human activities, and most of the world’s leading scientific organizations have issued public statements endorsing this position; and
  2. We are already experiencing the warming of the planet at a dangerously rapid rate, primarily as a result of our reliance on carbon-based fossil fuels, deforestation and other human activities that have caused a dramatic increase in the global level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases; and
  3. Unless we curb the emissions that cause climate change, average temperatures in the United States could be at least 3 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit higher by 2100, with consequences including sea-level rise of at least 3 to 6 feet, more frequent extreme hurricanes, more powerful tornadoes, prolonged drought, larger and more frequent wildfires, much more severe winter storms in some areas, reduction to agricultural productivity with resulting food shortages and famine, spread of disease, and a spasm of plant and animal extinctions that threatens to eliminate up to half of all living species on earth; and
  4. Scientists say that there may still be time to prevent the most catastrophic levels of global warming—if we eliminate the burning of fossil fuels worldwide within the next few years; and that eliminating the burning of fossil fuels is perfectly feasible with existing technology; and
  5. The known and proven reserves of oil, gas and coal, if extracted and burned, would emit enough carbon to guarantee catastrophic, irreversible global warming within a few decades; and emergency measures must be taken to prevent catastrophic increases in global warming that will trigger irreversible changes to our biosphere; and
  6. Addressing the climate crisis means immediate emergency measures, including, minimally, leaving all fossil fuels in the ground and retooling our infrastructure to run on renewable sources of energy; and
  7. There is no good reason why the richest nation in the world cannot fund protection for its workers as we move toward minimal reliance on fossil fuels; and
  8. Millions of good jobs can be created by moving toward greater energy efficiency, reliance on renewal energy, and the rebuilding of our civilian infrastructure;” and

WHEREAS, the above American Federation of Teachers resolution concluded that:

  1. The AFT is committed to a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy; and
  2. It is the policy of the AFT that as much as possible most fossil fuels should be left in the ground; and
  3. The AFT will support legislation that enables a just transition for workers and communities directly affected by the transition to a renewable energy economy, and such legislation should include appropriate protections for workers in the fossil fuel industries and military industries;” and

WHEREAS, that in recent months greenhouse gases have continued to accumulate, with carbon dioxide levels higher than at any time since human beings first evolved; and

WHEREAS, the past four years have been the four warmest years in human history, and the 20 warmest years in history have all come since 1995; and

WHEREAS, in recent years we have seen severe droughts and flooding and increasingly powerful, increasingly devastating storms around the globe, including those that struck the Philippines, Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico; and

WHEREAS, in 2017 two bills were introduced in Congress that are consistent with the AFT resolution on just transition. These two bills are: the Merkley-Sanders “100 by ’50 Act,” S. 987 (and its House companion H.R. 3314) and the Tulsi Gabbard “Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act,” H.R. 3671; and

WHEREAS, these two bills have different timetables and different approaches that will need to be resolved in the legislative process in the coming years, but both bills support the principles outlined in our 2017 resolution, “A Just Transition to a Peaceful and Sustainable Economy”:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will reaffirm our commitment to a just transition to a peaceful and sustainable economy outlined in our 2017 resolution excerpted above; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT agrees to be listed as an endorser of the principles of the Merkley-Sanders “100 by ’50 Act,” S. 987 (and its House companion H.R. 3314) and the Tulsi Gabbard “Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act,” H.R. 3671; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will work for the passage of these bills and/or similar legislation consistent with the AFT position that we must (a) move rapidly away from fossil fuels, and (b) move rapidly toward renewable energy, and (c) protect workers and communities that are hurt by the transition to renewable energy and (d) protect communities that are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will write to the prime sponsors of these bills and inform them of our support; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will inform and educate AFT members about our support for these bills.

(2018)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.