Towards a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty

By Peter Newell and Andrew Simms on 8 July 2019

A new approach is needed to tackle the climate crisis, in which the long overlooked
supply-side of fossil fuels takes centre stage. A crucial aspect of this is the need for
international agreements and law to effectively and fairly leave large swathes of
remaining fossil fuels in the ground. Towards that end, we make the case for a
Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty (FF-NPT) to deal with emissions at source.
Having explained the need for such a treaty, we propose overall aims, and both a
process and principles for the sequencing of efforts across fuel types and regions
based on equity and justice. We discuss the form an FF-NPT could take, as well as
some of the key challenges it would have to overcome. We suggest strategies for
overcoming key challenges in relation to reserves in developing countries,
questions of the just transition, and incentives for countries to sign up to such a treaty.


Peter Newell

Peter Newell is Research Director of the Rapid Transition Alliance. He is Professor of International Relations at the University of Sussex. His research focuses on the political economy of low carbon energy transitions and global climate change politics. He is currently an ISRF Political Economy Research Fellow and is on the Board of Directors of Greenpeace UK and Carbon Market Watch in Brussels. His books include Climate for Change, Governing Climate Change, Climate Capitalism and The Politics of Green Transformations.

Andrew Simms

Andrew Simms is Coordinator of the Rapid Transition Alliance, an author, political economist and activist. He is co-director of the NewWeather Institute, Assistant Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility, a Research Associate at the University of Sussex, and a Fellow of the New Economics Foundation (NEF). His books include The New Economics, Cancel the Apocalypse: the New Path to Prosperity, Ecological Debt and Do Good Lives Have to Cost the Earth? He tweets from @andrewsimms_uk