Resolution in Support of the Green New Deal, Student Climate Strikes, and a Climate Action Plan for Rutgers University

As a result of human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, primarily associated with the combustion of fossil fuels, the global climate is now about 1°C (nearly 2°F) warmer than the historical climate in which modern civilization emerged; and

Every amount of greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere worsens the developing global climate crisis, leading to real and increasingly measurable risks to human and ecosystem health, to the economy, and to global security; and

Stabilizing the global climate requires net-zero global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, meaning any residual emissions must be offset by verifiable efforts to accelerate the natural removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, as well as major reductions in the emissions of other greenhouse gases; and

The nations of the world have agreed in the Paris Agreement to undertake efforts to limit global warming to well below 2.0°C above pre-industrial levels and to achieve net-zero global greenhouse gas emissions in the second half of this century;

Meeting the international climate targets laid out in the Paris Agreement requires an urgent global transition from a trajectory of rising greenhouse gas emissions to one of falling greenhouse gas emissions, including the cessation of construction of new fossil-fuel infrastructure; and


Climate change will have some of the greatest impact on communities that lack the financial, social, technical and/or political resources needed to adapt and mitigate; and

In many cases, these communities have contributed the least to GHG emissions and have the least influence on international policy, but will suffer the most; and

Human-caused climate change is already causing substantial and costly impacts around the country and around the world, including from more frequent heat waves, heavier rainfall, and more extensive coastal flooding; and

New Jersey is particularly exposed to sea-level rise associated with warming oceans and melting glaciers, leading to substantially increased exposure to tidal flooding and the impacts of storms, such as, Hurricane Sandy; and

Rutgers University, on its campus and in its facilities around the state, is exposed to numerous climate change-intensified hazards, including heat waves, rain-driven flooding, and coastal flooding; and

Rutgers AAUP-AFT members are exposed to these climate-related hazards in their workplaces and communities; and

Academic institutions have many crucial roles to play in addressing the climate crisis, including generating new knowledge about the state of our planet, producing solutions to accelerate the transition to net-zero emissions and manage remaining climate change-enhanced risks, facilitating critical dialogues between scientists, policy-makers, workers, businesses, and affected communities, and training and empowering the rising generation, many of whom may live to see the realization of climate projections for the end of the century; and

Several large public universities — including Oregon State University, SUNY-Buffalo, the University of California, the University of Florida, and the University of Vermont — have already committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2030; and

Rutgers University is a national leader in climate change research and in the linking of climate change science to on-the-ground policy, planning, and engineering; and

Rutgers University has both an opportunity and a moral obligation to demonstrate leadership, through its operations, commensurate with its academic leadership regarding climate change mitigation and adaptation; and

Rutgers AAUP-AFT is a union of over 8,000 researchers, teachers and practitioners, including climate scientists, social scientists, policy and planning experts, and others, who: 1) conduct cutting edge research on climate change, inequality, energy, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and more; and 2) teach and mentor young people who will inherit a hotter and more dangerous planet due to the actions (and inaction) of past and present generations; and

Rutgers AAUP-AFT has previously acknowledged the climate crisis and taken action to demand climate change mitigation and adaptation through participation in the March for Science, the Jersey Renews Coalition, and the Labor Network for Sustainability’s Labor Convergence on Climate Change; and

The Green New Deal Resolution, sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, was introduced on February 6, 2019 in the U.S. Congress; and

The Green New Deal Resolution is an extremely ambitious framework for a series of projects and policies to achieve the following goals, among others:

  • Net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for workers and vulnerable communities — that is, indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth (referred to in this resolution as “frontline communities”);
  • Millions of good, high-wage jobs that ensure prosperity and economic security for all;
  • Investments in U.S. infrastructure, industry, and society to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century;
  • Clean air and water, climate resiliency, sustainable livelihoods, and access to nature for all for generations to come; and
  • Justice and equity for frontline communities by repairing current and historic harms; and
  • The Green New Deal resolution calls for “transparent and inclusive consultation, collaboration, and partnership with frontline and vulnerable communities, labor unions, worker cooperatives, civil society groups, Academia, and businesses.”


Rutgers AAUP-AFT supports the Green New Deal resolution as proposed by Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Markey which calls for a social, industrial, and economic mobilization to address the ongoing climate crisis by: 1) achieving national net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, 2) investing in strategies to manage the long-term health, economic, and ecological risks created by climate change, and 3) for frontline communities who have faced a history of environmental and economic injustice and for workers who may be harmed by the shift to renewable energy, providing a just and equitable transition whose provisions include universal access to healthcare, a federal jobs program, affordable housing, and the right of all workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with employers; and

Rutgers AAUP-AFT calls upon other chapters of the AFT and AAUP, the AFT and AAUP state and national leadership, the Middlesex-Somerset Central Labor Council, the New Jersey State Federation of Labor, and the national AFL-CIO to join us in supporting the Green New Deal; and

Rutgers AAUP-AFT shall demand, through bargaining and other means, that Rutgers University immediately begin, through an inclusive process, the development of a climate action plan that will achieve carbon neutrality in all University operations by 2030, and that will allow the University to serve as a model of climate change mitigation and adaptation for other universities and for communities in the state; and

Rutgers AAUP-AFT supports the planned global student strikes for climate action scheduled for September 20, 2019 and similar youth-led efforts which demand immediate action on climate change, including student calls for divestment of all University funds from fossil fuels; and

Rutgers AAUP-AFT urges the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, all television networks, and other media outlets to make climate change a central issue in all primary and general election political debates beginning in 2019 and continuing until the climate crisis is resolved; and

Rutgers AAUP-AFT urges the AFT state and national leadership to endorse only candidates for elected office that support the Green New Deal or an equivalent program to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions while providing a just transition for frontline communities and workers; and

The Rutgers AAUP-AFT climate action committee shall promote the demands put forth in this resolution around the issues of climate change and just transition and shall coordinate the union’s ongoing participation in allied networks promoting just solutions to the climate crisis, such as, Jersey Renews, Empower New Jersey, the Labor Network for Sustainability, and Trade Unions for Energy Democracy.