Momentum is Growing for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is a new and bold proposal being advanced by hundreds of civil society leaders, 101 Nobel Prize winners including the Dalai Lama, more than 3,000 scientists and academics, 50 local governments and parliamentarians and youth and Indigenous leaders around the world. Hawaii was the first state and Pacific Island in the world to call for a Fossil Fuel Treaty.
The writing is on the wall and these leaders are refusing to ignore it. Governments around the world have failed to address the top threat to our climate, biodiversity, human health and water - oil, gas and coal. These three products are responsible for one in five deaths globally from air pollution and 86 percent of the carbon emissions trapped in the atmosphere over the past decade.
The science is clear. We need to end expansion and wind down fossil fuel production and the emissions that come with it in order to ensure global climate, health and economic stability. Yet countries are on track to produce 110 percent more oil, gas and coal than can be burned if humanity is to survive.
As heatwaves, fires and floods sweep the planet and Russia wages a fossil fuel funded war in the Ukraine, it's critical we move away from oil, gas and coal to deliver security and prosperity. Yet there are no
mechanisms to coordinate a global phase out of fossil fuels. The Paris Agreement does not even mention the words oil, gas and coal.
For decades, our governments have been negotiating emissions reduction - who gets to pollute and how much but we desperately need global agreements on how much is produced and who produces it.
A Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty would provide a mechanism to accelerate the adoption of clean energy and low carbon technologies with wealthy fossil fuel countries supporting nations in the Global South to be part of the transition. It would end the expansion of oil, gas and coal and coordinate a wind down of existing production to limit warming per the Paris Agreement.
Steps are already being taken to realize a Fossil Fuel Treaty. Work is underway on a Global Registry of Fossil Fuels which will provide the only publicly accessible database of all current, planned and potential production and the emissions associated with it. The registry can be used as a tool to inform international negotiations as well as by civil society organizations to hold governments accountable and reveal the potential of stranded assets to investors.
Research is being done on how to set up a Global Commission on Fossil Fuels to elevate the risk of the production of fossil fuels and create a forum for countries to negotiate the terms of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Parliamentarians from around the world have started advocating for a treaty to achieve a fossil free future.
We need to move away from oil, gas and coal to deliver security and prosperity and to do it in a way that leaves no workers, communities or countries behind. A Fossil Fuel Treaty can get us there.
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About the authors
Tzeporah Berman is currently the International Program Director at Stan Earth and the Chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative. Check out her TED Talk here.