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WHEREAS climate change is an urgent crisis confronting people all over the world: extreme weather, forest fires, increased infectious disease outbreaks, rising sea levels, and pollution are wreaking havoc on the planet, and

WHEREAS Chicago’s communities of color are disproportionately impacted by 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, respiratory illnesses that exacerbate COVID-19 outcomes, and increased pregnancy risks especially for black mothers, and

WHEREAS the climate crisis exacerbates already-existing systemic injustices along racial, regional, social, and economic lines, having a disproportionate impact on “frontline communities” (including Indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth), and

WHEREAS the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agrees that to avert this catastrophe, we need “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of our society” to reduce world carbon emissions to 50% of current levels by 2030 and to net-zero emissions by 2050, and

WHEREAS buildings are the 4th largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, and it is essential for our union to take concrete steps to demand a green transformation at the sites where we have the most power: our schools, and

WHEREAS drastic improvements to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) buildings are long overdue, including a need to replace outdated and ineffective heating and cooling systems, improve ventilation and insulation, and remediate asbestos, lead, and mold that pose a risk to students and staff, and 

WHEREAS thousands of Chicagoans are out of work and in need of good jobs as soon as possible, therefore, be it

RESOLVED that the Chicago Teachers Union endorse and promote a campaign for green schools to demand that the City of Chicago and CPS do their part to mitigate and prepare for the unfolding climate crisis by doing the following:

  • Retrofit and weatherize CPS schools to make them healthier and energy efficient. 
  • Remediate schools for lead, asbestos, and mold.  
  • Install new electric, energy efficient heating and cooling systems that save money and the planet and keep our buildings’ temperature better regulated. 
  • Install new ventilation systems that prevent COVID-19 and also provide heat and energy recovery by using outgoing air to heat or cool incoming air.
  • Install solar panels at CPS schools to produce clean energy and provide cooling centers and electricity to communities during heat-waves, disasters, and power outages.
  • Support the integration of school solar and other green technology with climate justice curriculum across the grade levels. 
  • Source 100% of the energy used by CPS from renewable sources.
  • Expand solar energy career programs already in place at Juarez and Prosser High Schools to support a pathway to green careers for CPS students. 
  • Implement school composting programs, community gardening, and other sustainable practices to reduce CPS’s carbon footprint and address food deserts and other community needs.
  • Work with unions to train and hire unemployed parents and CPS alumni from Chicago neighborhoods with the highest unemployment rates to do this remediating, retrofitting, and solarization work. 
  • Prioritize schools serving low-income students and communities hardest hit by the impacts of COVID-19, environmental racism, and systemic disinvestment.