Thousands call for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty at the start of the UN meeting

More than 2,000 academics from around the world signed a open letter calling for a Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Fossil Fuels, as the 76th General Assembly of the United Nations begins its annual meeting.

Mobilizing meaningful action on climate change is one of the UN’s top priorities this year, and it was last month that UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “must sound like a death sentence for coal and fossil fuels before they destroy our planet. “

The hope that many academics, researchers, and activists have is that an international agreement to prevent the spread of fossil fuels, manage a just global phase-out, and guide a just transition could be used to preserve a planet that can sustain human life. .

“Since climate change is most significantly caused by the burning of fossil fuels, it is a matter of urgency as the petition states,” said Heather Castleden, the Impact Chair in Transformative Governance for Planetary Health at the University of Victoria, and one of the signatories of the letter.

“We need to have a precautionary principle to sustain human life on Earth, and one of the ways to do that is to end the production of fossil fuels,” he said. “It’s one of those things fundamental to human life, I don’t know how else to put it.”

The letter calls on world leaders to focus their efforts on limiting fossil fuel production, something Canada refuses to do. That’s partly because to reach the Paris Agreement goal of keeping warming at 1.5 C, global greenhouse gas emissions will have to fall 45% by 2030, or 6% annually between 2020 and 2030. The letter points to the global fossil fuel industry. it plans to grow by two percent during the same period.

“Without international cooperation and policy processes that focus on the supply of fossil fuels, countries will continue to exceed their already insufficient emissions targets,” the letter read.

Denmark and Costa Rica are announcing new details from the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) on Thursday, ahead of an expected official launch at COP26 later this year.

“The new leadership bar that BOGA is creating puts countries like Canada, Norway, the UK and the US to shame that continue to drill for more oil and gas despite having the means to enable a just transition away from fossil fuels”. Oil Change International Global Policy Campaign Manager Romain Ioualalen said in a statement.

“These countries should lead the pack away from fossil fuels. The time for excuses and green washing is over. “

One of the signatories of the open letter, Angela Carter, professor of politics at the University of Waterloo and author of Fossilized: Environmental Policy in the Petroprovinces of Canada, called BOGA the “future of climate policy.”

“The new leadership bar that #BOGA is creating puts countries like Canada, Norway, the UK and the US to shame,” says @Rlalen with @PriceofOil. #Cdnpoli

“This is a science-aligned policy that is collaborative and reaches up to the highest levels of international governance to make change,” he said.

Castleden said it was exciting to see that kind of nation-to-nation collaboration, and that it is important to have that kind of relationship in Canada between indigenous nations and governments at various levels.

He added that the defense of the earth is fundamental because it is a “form of resistance” that “is about planetary health and human health and well-being.” As such, he said that international treaties should incorporate the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the idea of ​​free, prior and informed consent to incorporate indigenous knowledge into governance.

The Indigenous Environmental Network and Oil Change International recently found that over the past decade, indigenous resistance to 26 fossil fuel expansion projects in Canada and the United States has prevented or will prevent (if successful) 1.8 billion tons of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere, or around 28 percent of the annual emissions of Canada and the United States. US emissions.

“The victories in the infrastructure struggles alone account for the carbon equivalent of 12 percent of the annual pollution of the US and Canada, or 779 million metric tons of CO2e,” the report said.

Cam Fenton of climate advocacy group 350 said that if Canada signed a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, projects like the Trans Mountain expansion would be scrapped.

“The idea of ​​non-proliferation, based on nuclear non-proliferationYou cannot build anything that expands or puts the world on the path to acquiring more nuclear weapons, ”he said. “And so, for fossil fuels, you can’t build anything that expands the extraction, export, or consumption of fossil fuels.”

He described the strategy as bottom-up, with municipalities banning the construction of nuclear sites in an effort to push resistance down the chain.

Fenton said the strategy was effective in curbing the nuclear industry at a time when “there was talk of how there would be a nuclear power plant outside of every city to power every home.”

“The reality is that most of the cities that signed up did not have the prospect of nuclear facilities being built on their border … but what it did was create a mass bottom-up rejection of the idea of ​​building new construction. nuclear”.

Beyond the thousands of scientists, academics, and other researchers signing a letter calling for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Dalai Lama and 100 Nobel laureates have also done so. the Nobel letter makes a similar case, calling it “inconceivable” to allow the fossil fuel industry to grow.

John Woodside / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer

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