Fossil fuel treaty

To tackle the climate crisis it is crucial that we phase out fossil fuels and kick-start a just transition to renewable energy. To do this we need an international, legally-binding agreement to effectively and fairly leave large swathes of remaining fossil fuels in the ground.  A Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty could provide a transparent and fair means to reduce our use of fossil fuels and in turn, avert climate breakdown.

In 2018, the Rapid Transition Alliance set out the case for a Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty (FFNPT). An initiative to phase out fossil fuels and make a just transition to clean energy has received support from across the world and political momentum is now building behind the idea of a international, supply-side climate policy.

⬆ Hear more about the campaign to phase out fossil fuels ⬆

Phasing out fossil fuels

Fossil fuels are a major contributor to the climate emergency with the burning of coal, oil and gas accounting for nearly 80% of carbon dioxide emissions since the industrial revolution. To tackle the climate crisis it is therefore crucial that we phase out fossil fuels and kick-start a just transition to renewable energy.

A recent report by the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney and conducted in cooperation with the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, finds that existing coal, oil and gas production puts the world on course to overshoot Paris climate targets. The report authored by Dr Sven Teske and Dr Sarah Niklas, analyses global renewable energy potential, and finds that every region on Earth can replace fossil fuels with renewable energy to keep warming below 1.5ºC and provide reliable energy access to all.

The report makes it clear that we need to make a just transition away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy. Crucially it also proves that this transition is feasible, that all regions have enough renewable energy to provide energy to all using existing technologies.

What is a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty

Fifty years ago world leaders came together to diffuse the threat of nuclear war by signing the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The NPT aimed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Regarded as the ‘cornerstone of the global, nuclear non-proliferation regime and an essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament’, it is a multi-lateral, binding international agreement that effectively drew a line in the sand of global nuclear warfare.

⬆ Prof. Peter Newell talks about how the idea for a fossil fuel treaty came about ⬆

A Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty draws on the notion of ‘non-proliferation’ by aiming to stop the expansion of oil, gas and coal, and promotes the phasing out of fossil fuels in line with the Paris Agreement goals. It aims to foster international cooperation for an equitable transition to clean energy and low-carbon solutions.

The three pillars

The FFNPT has three central pillars:

  1. Non-proliferation
    An immediate end to the expansion into new reserves of coal, oil and natural gas would limit our production of carbon emissions.

  2. Global disarmament
    Since existing oil and gas fields and coal mines contain enough carbon on their own, phasing out those current stockpiles is a much-needed step to keep the planet under the Paris Agreement’s temperature limits.

  3. Peaceful transition
    Every worker, community, and country must be taken into the deepest consideration on the way to fast-tracking all solutions. Only a proactive plan to enable economic diversification, implement renewable energy and other reliable, cost-effective low-carbon solutions will be able to meet the needs of a sustainable future.

A growing campaign

The Alliance has joined a number of global and grassroots organisations and individuals campaigning for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. The idea is gaining traction around the world. The campaign is calling for governments to negotiate and ratify a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to stop expansion, phase out fossil fuels and ensure a global just transition for all.

At the time of writing, 10 cities and sub- national governments had endorsed the treaty including Vancouver, Barcelona and Los Angeles. Over 1,300 scientists,academics and researchers joined thousands of individual and hundreds of organisations pledging their support for the treaty. And in 2021, over 100 Nobel Prize laureates – including the Dalai Lama – also called on world leaders to end the expansion of coal, oil and gas.

What can you do?

You can find out more about the FFNPT campaign on their website and access the campaign hub which has lots of interesting resources through the campaign hub. You can also:


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