For Members » Conventions

Addressing Climate Change

WHEREAS:

            Ninety-seven percent of respected climate scientists find conclusive evidence climate change is real, serious and caused by humans, so it is reasonable to act to avoid climate risks; and

WHEREAS:

            Climate change is causing extreme weather--more wildfires, droughts and flooding from heavy storms and rainfall. Air quality is deteriorating, water supplies are strained, natural systems are being disrupted and species are being displaced. Sea-levels are rising, which damages buildings and infrastructure; oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, which results in reduced fish stocks; agricultural regions are suffering, which results in less crop and livestock production and increasing food costs; and diseases transmitted by insects, water and food are on the rise, which take a toll on human health. Continued warming may trigger abrupt and irreversible changes; and

WHEREAS:

            Drinking-water resources are used and degraded by the exploration, production, refinement, distribution, storage and use of fossil fuels. We cannot afford surface and ground water contamination that makes more of our limited supply of drinking water undrinkable; and

WHEREAS:

            Climate change affects economies and is now costing the world approximately $1.2 trillion

a year. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused an estimated economic loss of $65 billion. Polluter-pays policies have not been adopted into law; and

WHEREAS:

            Climate change is the greatest market failure ever seen and poses economic disruptions which are likely to exceed 2 percent and could cost as much as 20 percent of annual global gross domestic product. Mitigating climate change is a pro-growth policy; and

WHEREAS:

            The energy returned on energy invested for fossil fuels, especially oil, continues to decline, approaching levels currently achieved by renewable sources of energy.  The direct costs of continuing to use these fossil fuels may become greater than the benefits gained; and

WHEREAS:

            AFSCME workers respond to public health risks and extreme weather events, such as forest fires and flooding. We can only be successful in our jobs if we stem the battering from a rapidly changing climate; and

WHEREAS:

            Directing investments toward other, non-carbon-fuel based economic endeavors will create new jobs in both public and private sectors and represents an opportunity for long term investors to achieve substantial returns.  The green economy accounted for 3.4 million U.S. jobs in 2011. Climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards. Moving to clean energy is affordable; and

WHEREAS:

            AFSCME inspires activism in public employee pension funds and such activism can have a significant impact.  As of December 2013, state and local defined benefit assets were $3.88 trillion.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

            AFSCME, through its shareholder activism and work with allies and public pension funds will advocate that fossil fuel companies address the impact of climate change; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            AFSCME will work with allies, interested affiliates and public pension funds to develop shareholder proposals targeting the top 200 fossil fuel companies, as defined by the Carbon Tracker Initiative’s report, Unburnable Carbon, (the Fossil Fuel Companies) that address the link between climate risk and shareholder value. Potential proposals include:

  • Adopting policies to reduce emissions in line with U.S. goals;
  • Reviewing public policy advocacy on energy policy and climate change position;
  • Reporting on goals and plans to address carbon asset risk;
  • Adding independent board member with environmental expertise; and
  • Reporting on mitigating physical risks from climate change; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:  

            AFSCME will continue to participate in the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR). The INCR is a network of 100 institutional investors, representing more than $11 trillion in assets, committed to addressing the risks and seizing the opportunities of climate change and other sustainability challenges; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

            AFSCME will develop and ensure the availability of proxy voting guidelines that support climate change and environmental disclosures for members’ funds; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED:

            AFSCME International will support councils and locals working on climate change investment issues through activities including, but not limited to, providing technical assistance, and publicly acknowledging the health, environmental, economic and social justice benefits of alternative energy development.

 

SUBMITTED BY:
Jeff Klatke, President
Michael Hanna, First Vice President
Annette Skillman, Secretary
AFSCME Council 75
Oregon

Karen Williams, President
AFSCME Local 3336, Council 75
Oregon

International Executive Board

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