General Assembly – August 18, 2021
Name of Union Submitting Policy
Swiss Union of Jewish Students (SUJS)
The European Union of Jewish Students believes:
- We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. The effects on global human society, if the climate and ecological emergency is not addressed, will spiral out of control. The magnitude of climate change is such as to cause irreversible effects.
- There are manifold Jewish texts that refer to the environment, agriculture and seasons. The care and the preservation of the environment where we all live are intrinsic Jewish values.(1) (2) (3)
- The safeguard of the environment is not a whim and environmental sustainability is not a luxury: they are a necessity and a social issue. Environmental damages hit harder, often disproportionately, those who are already in need.
- That the current level of involvement of Jewish engagement and activism on issues relating to climate change and the climate crisis is somewhat lacking, in its current form. This is, in part, due to the lack of literacy and deep knowledge that exists on a broad scale on climate activism among Jewish students.
- Climate change has far-reaching, cross-cutting implications that worsen the lives of communities around the world. For instance, climate change has exacerbated divisions and existing conflict in regions around the globe, as vital resources become scarcer, health, food and economic insecurity become exacerbated.
- Although aviation is a relatively small industry, it has a disproportionately large impact on the climate system. It accounts for four to nine per cent of the total climate change impact of human activity. Short-haul flights require more fuel per kilometre travelled than a long-haul flight. Compared to other modes of transport, such as driving or taking the train, travelling by air has a greater climate impact per passenger kilometre. A Eurostar independently commissioned research assessed that choosing the train over flying cuts CO2 emissions per passenger by 90%.
- In 2016, 170 kg of plastic packaging waste was generated per inhabitant in the EU (varying from 55 kg per inhabitant in Croatia and 221 kg per inhabitant in Germany). 114 kg seem to be recycled, although the majority of the plastic waste is exported to countries, where the recycling process can’t be controlled. In March 2019, the European Parliament has voted to ban single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers as part of a sweeping law against plastic waste that despoils beaches and pollutes oceans. This means that the single-use plastics ban has to come into force by 2021 in all EU member states.
- The massive influence of industry on climate change.
- The clear visibility of climate change has been seen across the world in recent weeks and months, such as the fatal flooding in Northern and Western Europe, killing over 100 people. As such, Jewish organisational literacy on this topic must be increased, in line with standing up for human rights.
- That engaging more actively on this topic will allow EUJS to not only stand up for a just cause but to also broaden its network of relations with other organisations.
The European Union of Jewish Students resolves:
- To make all EUJS events meat-free as a default. There will be the option to opt-in for meat meals if people don’t feel comfortable with this policy. However, there will be a disclaimer explaining the impact of meat consumption on the environment. There will be an additional option to have meat on Shabbat. At EUJS-related activities, the topic of meat consumption at the activity has to be raised with the partner(s) beforehand.
- To discourage the use of flights and subsidise displacements by train and public transportation, both for participants, elected members and staff. In order to do so, EUJS commits:
- not to reimburse any flight if the alternative transportation takes less than 5hours in total.
- reimburse 50% of the airfare if the alternative transportation takes between 5 and 7 hours
- to reimburse 100% of the airfare if the alternative transportation takes more than 7 hours.
- On particular occasions – which must be approved by the commission – exceptions can be made.(4)
- To limit the use of disposable goods & unnecessary gadgets for all EUJS activities. If possible, trying to source goods made out of fully recyclable and ethically sourced materials.
- To not use and supply single-use plastic from all EUJS activities.
- To ensure EUJS coordinates and provides trainings (provided by external experts in the field) to willing member unions, as well as representatives of other Jewish organisations (in a cross-generational approach) on the climate crisis and on climate activism as a means of boosting individual and organisational Jewish literacy on the topic.
- To provide the opportunity to its member unions to become active on the issue through methods such as via the coordination of a pan-European Jewish climate crisis action.
- To create a commission to monitor the aforementioned questions; this commission shall include elected members from the board and external experts.
- To explore, as this is a global issue, avenues to promote collaboration with international Jewish organisations on the topic, via capacity-building and opportunities for activism.
(1) Kohelet Rabot 7:13, Genesis 2:15
(2) Mishna in Avot (2:21) states: “we do not have to finish the job but we also cannot raise our hands and ignore the responsibility.”
(3) Mishna in Sanhedrin (4:5) states that “everyone has to say – the earth was created for me”.
(4) http://www.ecopassenger.org/bin/query.exe/en?L=vs_uic website that calculates the different emissions of different ways of travelling. Could be used to calculate the cost-effectiveness of travelling by plane.