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The following resolution was adopted by the CTU House of Delegate at its September 1, 2021 monthly meeting:

WHEREAS the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have repeatedly acknowledged the urgency of addressing global warming and climate change, including in a 2012 resolution stating that climate change brought on by human activity is a dire threat to the quality of life on Earth, as polar caps melt, glaciers and snow caps retreat, sea levels rise and salinize coastal areas such as Louisiana, and agricultural regions are devastated due to droughts and torrential storms, and

WHEREAS the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund (CTPF) Board of Trustees has investment policies that are consistent with the goal to “consider environmental, social, and governance principles when making investment decisions” (quoted from a formal CTPF response from a FOIA request concerning fossil fuel investments by the Fund), and

WHEREAS Chicago’s communities of color are disproportionately impacted by fossil fuel pollution, climate change, and resulting extreme temperatures, causing forced migration from Puerto Rico and Central America, increased frequency and intensity of flooding on the South Side, lakefront erosion, heatwaves, respiratory illnesses that exacerbate COVID-19 outcomes, and increased pregnancy risks especially for BIPOC mothers, and

WHEREAS the AFT noted in a 2014 resolution that most experts recommend an energy policy that facilitates a transition from old to new sources of energy and has resolved to support federal legislation for a comprehensive national energy policy—one that will expand investments in new energy technologies that create green jobs and goods and provide a just transition for workers and communities that may be harmed due to changing energy sources, and

WHEREAS the United States government recently reaffirmed the Paris Agreement, recognizing a common moral obligation to limit further temperature increases to no more than 1.5-2 degrees Celsius, but an agreement that many environmental scientists have criticized as too limited, as it will still allow “this hot, sodden mess that is our planet” to warm dangerously above pre-industrial levels, and

WHEREAS the fossil fuel industry, with 2,795 gigatons of coal, oil and gas reserves—five times the amount safe to use—has spent millions on lobbying and denying the well-documented environmental consequences of extracting and burning fossil fuels at the current rate; and it has recently been revealed that some fossil fuel corporations knew of and suppressed information from their own scientists on global warming as early as 1981, and

WHEREAS the viability of the planet requires that 75 to 80 percent of fossil fuel reserves remain in the ground, according to a major study published in Nature by Christophe McGlade and Paul Ekins, and confirmed by a 2015 statement by leading economists and scientists, and

WHEREAS according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a 25 percent renewable energy standard by 2025 would create three times as many jobs, 202,000, as producing energy from fossil fuels and “would stimulate $263.4 billion in new capital investment for renewable energy technologies, $13.5 billion in new landowner income biomass production and/or wind land lease payments, and $11.5 billion in new property tax revenue for local communities”, and

WHEREAS the fossil fuel industry continues to use its power and billions of dollars to fight attempts to address climate change brought on by global warming, and

WHEREAS Approximately 1.6% of total fund assets of CTPF members’ retirement savings, are invested in 225 small cap and passive strategy funds, totaling $242.3 million that include fossil fuel industries, and

WHEREAS disinvestment from these funds will indicate that such an action is a step toward undermining financial support of an industry responsible for the devastation of the planet; therefore, be it

RESOLVED that the Chicago Teachers Union implores the CTU members who sit on the CTPF Board of Trustees to direct the CTPF to take the following actions:

  1. Engage a qualified consultant, independent of the fossil fuel industry, to review our investment portfolios in the fossil fuels industry, including thermal coal companies, possible divestiture from other types of fossil fuel companies that contribute substantially to climate change, as well as shareholder initiatives, consistent with each board of trustees’ fiduciary duty to participants and beneficiaries,
  2. Once a review is complete, instruct its portfolio managers to disinvest from funds that provide finances to fossil fuel industries and find or establish funds free from fossil fuels,
  3. Support investments that enable governments to convert existing municipal buildings, schools and public facilities to renewable energy and require the powering of new construction with renewable energy sources.