Position of the Reform Movement on Climate Change & Energy

The Reform Movement has long been aware of the need for a sustainable energy policy that both protects the earth and creates energy independence. As far back as 1969 the Reform Movement has had policy speaking out against environmental pollution, and at the 1978 Biennial, the Movement spoke out about government’s role in legislating responsible energy consumption. In 1991, the URJ passed its New North American Energy Strategy updating the Union's stance on energy issues. The resolution supports conservation and efficiency; reaffirms our desire for answers on outstanding safety questions surrounding nuclear energy; opposes offshore drilling without proper environmental safeguards; and calls on the government to honor our commitment to the most vulnerable through energy assistance to low-income families and individuals.

The same year, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) passed a resolution calling upon our congregations and congregants to consciously modify their behavior in order to preserve our planet, as well as to ensure that the economic and health costs of environmental hazards do not disproportionately fall upon poor and minority communities.

In 1998, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) passed a resolution, "Confronting the Challenge of Climate Change," which calls on the federal government to negotiate, sign, and ratify binding international agreements to minimize climate change; and to appropriate the funds and adopt the policies necessary to meet these agreements. This resolution also calls upon Jewish organizations and Jewish individuals to conduct energy audits of private homes and communal facilities.

In 2000, the CCAR passed a strong resolution entitled the "National Energy Policy," which calls on households, schools, synagogues, and camps to develop environmentally sound policies and (among other things) calls on Congress and the Administration to set aside the concerns of special interest and:

  • Encourage the development of alternative energy sources
  • Close a loophole allowing sport utility vehicles, minivans, and pickup trucks (over 50% of passenger vehicles sold) to meet lower fuel economy standards than cars
  • Raise CAFE standards for all passenger vehicles to a minimum of 45 miles per gallon by 2010 and 65 miles per gallon by 2020
  • Support investment in environmentally friendly energy technologies
  • Phase out all subsidies for coal, oil, and nuclear industries by 2005
  • Provide tax credits for investments to make homes and buildings more energy efficient
  • Create progressively strict emissions standards, including carbon dioxide emissions, for all power plants regardless of fuel source or age.

In 2001, the URJ adopted policy opposing drilling in the Arctic Refuge and in the resolution the Movement specifically referenced fuel economy: “We believe that our nation's energy needs can be better met through energy efficiency, conservation, and the development of alternative energy sources. We recognize, for example, that increasing fuel-efficiency standards for new passenger vehicles could save significantly more oil than the likely yield from the coastal plain.”

The Reform Movement reiterated its commitment to mitigating climate change in its 2017 Resolution on Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change. The resolution restated the movement's support for fighting climate change and pledged to work on supporting adaptation measures and relief efforts for those impacted by natural disasters exacerbated by climate change.