news News

We are still knocking on the door of future climate catastrophe
by UN News, IPCC, UNEP, CAN, agencies
1:21pm 8th Nov, 2021
13 Nov. 2021
UN Secretary-General's Statement on the Conclusion of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26:
'The approved texts are a compromise. They reflect the interests, the conditions, the contradictions and the state of political will in the world today.. Unfortunately the collective political will was not enough to overcome some deep contradictions.
As I said at the opening, we must accelerate action to keep the 1.5 degree goal alive. Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe.
It is time to go into emergency mode — or our chance of reaching net zero will itself be zero. I reaffirm my conviction that we must end fossil fuels subsidies. Phase out coal. Put a price on carbon.
Build resilience of vulnerable communities against the here and now impacts of climate change. And make good on the $100 billion climate finance commitment to support developing countries. We did not achieve these goals at this conference.
But we have some building blocks for progress.. The texts today reaffirm resolve towards the 1.5 degree goal. Boost climate finance for adaptation. Recognize the need to strengthen support for vulnerable countries suffering from irreparable climate damage.
And for the first time they encourage International Financial Institutions to consider climate vulnerabilities in concessional financial and other forms of support, including Special Drawing Rights. And finally close the Paris rule book with agreement on carbon markets and transparency. These are welcome steps, but they are not enough.
Science tells us that the absolute priority must be rapid, deep and sustained emissions reductions in this decade. Specifically — at least 45% cut by 2030 compared to 2010 levels.
But the present set of Nationally Determined Contributions -- even if fully implemented -- will still increase emissions this decade on a pathway that will clearly lead us to well above 2.4 degrees by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial levels.
To help lower emissions in many other emerging economies, we need to build coalitions of support including developed countries, financial institutions, those with the technical know-how.
This is crucial to help each of those emerging countries speed the transition from coal and accelerate the greening of their economies. I want to make a particular appeal for our future work in relation to adaptation and the issue of loss and damage. Adaptation isn’t a technocratic issue, it is life or death.
I was once Prime Minister of my country. And I imagine myself today in the shoes of a leader from a vulnerable country. COVID-19 vaccines are scarce. My economy is sinking. Debt is mounting. International resources for recovery are completely insufficient.
Meanwhile, although we contributed least to the climate crisis, we suffer most. And when yet another hurricane devastates my country, the treasury is empty.
Protecting countries from climate disaster is not charity. It is solidarity and enlightened self-interest.
We have another climate crisis today. A climate of mistrust is enveloping our globe. Climate action can help rebuild trust and restore credibility.
That means finally delivering on the $100 billion climate finance commitment to developing countries. No more IOUs.
It means measuring progress, updating climate plans every year and raising ambition. I will convene a global stock-taking summit at the heads of state level in 2023.
And it means – beyond the mechanisms already set out in the Paris Agreement – establishing clear standards to measure and analyze net zero commitments from non-state actors. I will create a High-Level Expert Group with that objective.
Finally, I want to close with a message of hope and resolve to young people, indigenous communities, women leaders, all those leading the climate action army. I know many of you are disappointed. Success or failure is not an act of nature. It’s in our hands.
The path of progress is not always a straight line. Sometimes there are detours. Sometimes there are ditches. As the great Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson said: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”
We have many more seeds to plant along the path. We won’t reach our destination in one day or one conference. But I know we can get there. We are in the fight of our lives. Never give up. Never retreat. Keep pushing forward'.
24 Oct. 2021
Global security and stability could break down, with migration crises and food shortages bringing conflict and chaos, if countries fail to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, the UN’s top climate official has warned ahead of the Cop26 climate summit.
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said: “We’re really talking about preserving the stability of countries, preserving the institutions that we have built over so many years, preserving the best goals that our countries have put together. The catastrophic scenario would indicate that we would have massive flows of displaced people.”
The impact would cascade, she said, adding: “It would mean less food, so probably a crisis in food security. It would leave a lot more people vulnerable to terrible situations. It would mean a lot of sources of instability.”
So far, the commitments countries have made to reduce emissions fall far short of the 45% cut, based on 2010 levels, that scientists say is needed by 2030 to limit global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the goal in the Paris accord.
Current countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to cut green gas emissions, based on 165 latest available NDCs, representing all 192 Parties to the Paris Agreement, including the 116 new or updated NDCs communicated by 143 Parties as on 12 October 2021, compared to 86 new or updated NDCs covered by the September report reveal an alarming reality.
A sizable increase, of about 16%, in global GHG emissions in 2030 compared to 2010 is anticipated. Comparison to the latest findings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that such an increase, unless changed quickly, may lead to a dangerous temperature rise of some 2.7°C by the end of the century.
“At the same time, the message from this update is loud and clear: Parties must urgently redouble their climate efforts if they are to prevent global temperature increases beyond the Paris Agreement’s goal of 1.5C – by the end of the century.
Overshooting the temperature goals will lead to a destabilised world and endless suffering, especially among those who have contributed the least to the GHG emissions in the atmosphere. This updated report unfortunately confirms the trend already indicated in the full Synthesis Report, which is that we are nowhere near where science says we should be,” she cautioned.
The IPCC has estimated that limiting global average temperature increases to 1.5C requires a reduction of CO2 emissions of 45% in 2030.
Patricia Espinosa also held out the possibility that if a shortfall remains at Glasgow, as is likely, between necessary and offered cuts, nations will asked to revise their plans soon after. As emissions are still rising and the 1.5C target will slip out of reach unless sharp cuts are made this decade. “This is the biggest challenge humanity is facing, so we really don’t have an option.”
Oct. 2021
It's time to hold governments to task for fossil fuels they permit, by Ploy Achakulwisut - Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
Courts are telling oil, gas and coal companies to cut emissions from their products to curb climate change. Shouldn't governments also be responsible for projects they approve?
Earlier this year, a court in the Netherlands ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by almost half by 2030.
One of the most extraordinary aspects of this ruling was the court’s recognition that Shell is responsible not only for the emissions directly stemming from its business activities, but also for those from the burning of its products.
For the first time, a court recognized that fossil fuel companies cannot claim to be innocent suppliers of their planet-warming products.
Which raises the question: Don’t governments who carry out and support fossil fuel production bear some responsibility too?
In fact, state-owned companies control around half of global coal, oil, and gas production and account for 40% of investments in oil and gas worldwide.
Governments also routinely encourage and facilitate fossil fuel exploration and extraction by private companies through tax incentives and other subsidies; by issuing exploration licenses and drilling permits, by financing domestic and overseas projects; and by setting ambitious targets for future production in their national energy plans.
While a lot of attention has been paid to scrutinizing the level of global warming that countries’ emissions reduction pledges would lead us to, especially in the lead-up to the next UN climate summit, what’s gone on relatively unnoticed is how much the world’s governments intend to supply fossil fuels beyond what we can safely burn in the coming decades.
The Production Gap Report series, first launched in 2019 with the United Nations Environment Programme and published today in its third edition, aims to change that. The analysis, reflecting the latest national energy plans, shows that despite increasing warnings about the “production gap”, countries have done little to narrow it over the past three years.
Indeed, governments are still planning to produce more than twice the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The excess is particularly great with coal – around 240% – but it is also large for oil and gas: 60% and 70%, respectively. The production gap grows even wider by 2040.
These startling numbers are reinforced by government policies and narratives that belie their announcements of more ambitious climate action and net-zero commitments.
China is touting unconventional gas as “clean” fossil energy. Russia is branding its Arctic oil as “green”. Australia is promoting a “gas-fired recovery” from the COVID-19 recession. Norway and the UK intend to maximize economic recovery of their remaining oil and gas resources.
Saudi Arabia intends to be the “last man standing” among major oil producers. Brazil wants to become the fifth-largest oil and gas producer in the world, while the US will likely remain number one.
Meanwhile, fossil gas received more international public finance than any other energy source of energy in 2017–2019, averaging around US$16 billion per year, four times more than wind or solar. COVID-19 stimulus and recovery investments have also exacerbated the problem, with governments directing hundreds of billions of dollars into entrenching our reliance on fossil fuels.
The reality is that governments of major fossil fuel-producing countries are still not willing to acknowledge the fact that we need a rapid and sustained reduction of coal, oil and gas extraction as part of the global decarbonization effort to meet the Paris Agreement. They remain unwilling, even as climate damages are already widespread and intensifying in all parts of the world.
Even as renewable energy and electric vehicles have already or will soon overtake their fossil-fueled competitors in cost and appeal. Even as the window of opportunity for limiting long-term warming to 1.5°C is rapidly closing.
To date, most government action related to addressing the supply of fossil fuels has largely been restricted to promoting carbon capture and storage and minimizing methane emissions from extraction processes – which are themselves important steps, but vastly insufficient on their own for mitigating the climate crisis.
While some fossil fuel interests may leverage Europe’s record-high gas prices to wrongly blame the clean energy transition, what this situation truly underscores is the need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels – and vulnerability to their volatile prices and geopolitics – with smart policies and long-term planning.
This includes investing in energy storage facilities and more flexible energy systems alongside increasing renewable energy supply and energy efficiency, and protecting the public from energy price swings.
Because ultimately, it is energy that people demand, not fossil fuels. And as climate impacts intensify and spread to every region on our planet, so too are people’s demands for climate accountability: climate lawsuits against governments, fossil fuel companies, and financial actors now number in the thousands, including a recent challenge against the UK government for continuing to support oil and gas production in the North Sea.
What’s more, there is growing awareness that eliminating fossil fuels will also bring about important and immediate health and environmental benefits, such as avoiding millions of premature deaths from air pollution, protecting local communities and ecosystems in extraction “sacrifice zones”, and reducing plastic pollution and radioactive waste.
Some governments are now starting to place bans and restrictions on fossil fuel exploration and extraction, with Costa Rica and Denmark spearheading efforts to coordinate an international phase-out of fossil fuel production. Major fossil fuel-producing countries need to get on board.
As this year’s Production Gap Report makes clear, there is no time to waste. If these countries want to show they’re serious about meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, they need to pair their emission reduction commitments with clear, transparent plans to wind down fossil fuel production.
* Ploy Achakulwisut is a lead author of the 2021 Production Gap Report:
Oct. 2021
We are catastrophically far from the crucial goal of 1.5°C, write Vanessa Nakate and Greta Thunberg for Fridays for Future.
To world leaders,
"Betrayal." That's how young people around the world describe our governments' failure to cut carbon emissions. And it's no surprise.
We are catastrophically far from the crucial goal of 1.5°C, and yet governments everywhere are still accelerating the crisis, spending billions on fossil fuels.
This is not a drill. It's code red for the Earth. Millions will suffer as our planet is devastated -- a terrifying future that will be created, or avoided, by the decisions you make. You have the power to decide.
As citizens across the planet, we urge you to face up to the climate emergency. Not next year. Not next month. Now:
Keep the precious goal of 1.5°C alive with immediate, drastic, annual emission reductions unlike anything the world has ever seen.
End all fossil fuel investments, subsidies, and new projects immediately, and stop new exploration and extraction.
End 'creative' carbon accounting by publishing total emissions for all consumption indices, supply chains, international aviation and shipping, and the burning of biomass.
Deliver the $100bn promised to the most vulnerable countries, with additional funds for climate disasters.
Enact climate policies to protect workers and the most vulnerable, and reduce all forms of inequality.
We can do this. There is still time to avoid the worst consequences if we are prepared to change. It will take determined leadership. And it will take courage - but know that when you rise, billions will be right behind you.
It can feel incredibly hard to keep hope alive in the face of inaction. But our hope lies in people -- in the millions of us who are rising to fight for the future. It lies in our dogged determination to speak truth to power. Our hope is rooted in action and fuelled by a love for humanity and our most beautiful earth. We can do this. And we must do this. Together.
* Greta Thunberg is a youth climate leader from Sweden, Vanessa Nakate is a Ugandan climate-justice activist and founder of the Rise Up Movement, they are both members of the global youth movement Fridays for Future.
Oct. 2021
Fossil fuel production to increase to 2040 and beyond, undermining Paris Climate Agreement
Governments plan to produce more than double the amount of energy from fossil fuels in 2030, than the amount that would limit global warming to the Paris Agreement level of 1.5°C.
That’s according to the 2021 Production Gap Report, released this week by leading research institutes and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Over the next two decades, governments are projecting an increase in global oil and gas production, and only a modest decrease in coal production. Taken together, these plans mean that fossil fuel production will increase overall, to at least 2040.
Current plans would lead to about 240 per cent more coal, 57 per cent more oil, and 71 per cent more gas production in 2030, than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
Global gas output is projected to increase the most between 2020 and 2040, continuing a trend of long-term global expansion inconsistent with the Paris Agreement.
Reacting to the report, the UN Secretary General António Guterres said, “It is urgent that public financiers as well as private finance, including commercial banks and asset managers, switch their funding from coal to renewables to promote full decarbonization of the power sector and access to renewable energy for all”, he said.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries have directed over $300 billion in new funds towards fossil fuel activities.
“The research is clear: global coal, oil and gas production must start declining immediately and steeply to be consistent with limiting long-term warming to 1.5°C,” says Ploy Achakulwisut, a lead author on the report. “However, governments continue to plan for and support levels of fossil fuel production that are vastly in excess of what we can safely burn.”
The 2021 Production Gap Report provides country profiles for 15 major producer countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. The country profiles show that most of these governments continue to provide significant policy support for fossil fuel production.
“Fossil-fuel-producing nations must recognize their role and responsibility in closing the production gap and steering us towards a safe climate future,” says Mans Nilsson, executive director at the Stockholm Environment Institute. “As countries increasingly commit to net-zero emissions by mid-century, they also need to recognize the rapid reduction in fossil fuel production that their climate targets will require.”
Christiana Figueres, the UN climate chief when the Paris climate deal was signed, said: “We must keep fossil fuels in the ground. A safe future has no space for any new fossil fuel extraction. The shift to clean energy must be accelerated in order to maintain human activity now and protect human wellbeing tomorrow.”
Christophe McGlade, a senior analyst at the International Energy Agency (IEA), said: “Ongoing research underlines how the rhetoric of tackling climate change has diverged from reality. None of the net zero pledges made to date by major oil and gas producing countries include explicit targets to curtail production.”
The report is produced by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), ODI, E3G, and UNEP. More than 80 researchers contributed to the analysis and review, including numerous universities, think tanks and other research organizations.
Oct. 2021
"Economists have grossly undervalued the lives of young people and future generations who are most at threat from the devastating impacts of climate change".. “Discounting has been applied in such a way that it is effectively discrimination by date of birth”, says Professor Nicholas Stern, Chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London Scool of Economics.
Many economic assessments of the climate crisis “grossly undervalue the lives of young people and future generations”, Prof. Nicholas Stern warned ahead of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.
Economists have failed to take account of the “immense risks and potential loss of life” that could occur as a result of the climate crisis, he said, as well as badly underestimating the speed at which the costs of clean technologies, such as solar and wind energy, have fallen.
Stern said the economics profession had also misunderstood the basics of “discounting”, the way in which economic models value future assets and lives compared with their value today.
Recent research shows people born today will suffer many times more extreme heatwaves and other climate disasters over their lifetimes than their grandparents.
Stern’s remarks are based on a paper to be published in the Economic Journal of the Royal Economic Society and made to mark the 15th anniversary of the landmark Stern review on the economics of the climate crisis in 2006. It concluded that the costs of inaction on climate were far greater than the costs of action and that the climate crisis was the biggest market failure in history.
Since the publication of the report, carbon emissions have risen by 20% and Stern was scathing about much of the economic analysis that has informed policymakers. “Cavalier treatment of risk, and the missing of the very rapid technical progress, means the models have been profoundly misleading,” he said.
The theory of discounting had not been related to its ethical foundations, he added, or allowed for the risk that global heating will make future generations poorer.
Political action has been slow since 2006, Stern said, because of the persistence of the “damaging” idea that climate action cuts economic growth.
“The economic question now is: how do we manage the radical transformation we have to make in the world economy in the next 20 or 30 years?” he said. “How do we promote the 2% or 3% extra investment we’ll need – which is a very valuable investment, not a cost.”
A whole range of policies are needed, Stern said, including carbon pricing, regulation, product standards, investment in research and reform of capital markets. A critical factor is the provision of large-scale, low-cost finance to fund the low-carbon transition, especially in developing countries.
The Stern review was criticised by some when published as exaggerating the risks of the climate crisis. “The idea that I was alarmist is just laughable in retrospect. We underestimated the dangers. The costs of inaction were very worrying 15 years ago – they are immensely worrying now.”
Oct. 2021
IEA: Progress on cutting global emissions 'far too slow'. (DW)
The International Energy Agency has long been accused of undermining climate action. Now, ahead of a global climate summit, it has called on governments to make stronger commitments.
Investment in renewable energy will need to triple by the end of this decade if the world's climate pledges are to be met, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.
The IEA, which advises governments on energy policy, released its annual World Energy Outlook (WEO) report, just weeks before the United Nations COP26 summit in Glasgow.
Critics have long accused the IEA of underestimating the speed at which the world could switch to renewables, thereby undermining the fight against climate change.
But in this year's WEO report, the IEA has urged governments to make stronger commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, hydropower and bioenergy, need to form a far bigger share in the rebound in energy investment after the coronavirus pandemic, the Paris-based agency said.
The IEA noted that demand for renewables continues to grow. However, "this clean energy progress is still far too slow to put global emissions into sustained decline towards net zero" by 2050.
Mans Nilsson, executive director of the environmental group Stockholm Environment Institute, told DW that the IEA has gradually moved toward a "more distinct tone urging decision makers to mitigate climate change."
"Traditionally, the IEA has been rather 'soft' on fossil energy and bearish on the potential of renewables. Their overly pessimistic forecasts of the development of installation costs for solar and wind have been infamous," he added. "This has now been rectified," he said, adding that he believes the IEA seems "still too positive on oil and gas."
"In a way, it is a shift to a more rational and realistic view on the energy transition", Nilsson said.
"Many governments have relied on the IEA in the past to justify their support for fossil fuels," said David Tong of the Price of Oil non-governmental organization, which advocates transitioning to clean energy.
"At COP26, governments will compromise their credibility if they ignore the IEA's guidance now, when it's finally more consistent with the 1.5-degree limit they agreed to in Paris," he told DW.
"We need our leaders to stop listening to fossil fuel CEOs and instead follow the science. Will they back up net zero and 1.5 degree commitments with immediate action to stop new oil, gas and coal extraction, and surge money into clean energy and efficiency solutions?"
* While the UN Paris climate agreement emphasis is focused on net zero targets by 2050, most climate scientists are calling for immediate targets for 2030 of at least a 45-50% reduction in carbon emissions.
Meeting the 1.5C target will not prevent extreme weather worsening or sea levels rising, but it is seen as vital for avoiding runaway impacts on humans and the planet, including large-scale hunger, mass migration, and general chaos.
The IEA dubious claim that the outcome of the COP26 summit will lead to a 1.8C temperature increase by 2050, if all the manifestly inadequate incremental commitments are realized is simply not credible.
Oct 2021
The fossil fuel industry benefits from subsidies of $11m every minute, according to analysis by the International Monetary Fund.
The IMF found the production and burning of coal, oil and gas was subsidised by $5.9 trillion dollars in 2020, with not a single country pricing all its fuels sufficiently to reflect their full supply and environmental costs.
Experts said the subsidies were “adding fuel to the fire” of the climate crisis, at a time when rapid reductions in carbon emissions were urgently needed.
Explicit subsidies that cut fuel prices accounted for 8% of the total and tax breaks another 6%. The biggest factors were failing to make polluters pay for the deaths and poor health caused by air pollution (42%) and for the heatwaves and other impacts of global heating (29%).
Setting fossil fuel prices that reflect their true cost would cut global CO2 emissions by over a third, the IMF analysts said. This would be a big step towards meeting the internationally agreed 1.5C target. Keeping this target within reach is a key goal of the UN Cop26 climate summit.
“Fossil fuel price reform could not be timelier,” the IMF researchers said. The ending of fossil fuel subsidies would also prevent nearly a million deaths a year from dirty air and raise trillions of dollars for governments, they said.
“There would be enormous benefits from reform, so there’s an enormous amount at stake,” said Ian Parry, the lead author of the IMF report.
“Some countries are reluctant to raise energy prices because they think it will harm the poor. But holding down fossil fuel prices is a highly inefficient way to help the poor, because most of the benefits accrue to wealthier households. It would be better to target resources towards helping poor and vulnerable people directly.”
The G20 agreed in 2009 to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies and in 2016, the G7 set a deadline of 2025, but little progress has been made. In July, a report showed that the G20 countries had subsidised fossil fuels by trillions of dollars since 2015, the year the Paris climate deal was reached.
“To stabilise global temperatures we must urgently move away from fossil fuels instead of adding fuel to the fire,” said Mike Coffin, senior analyst at the thinktank Carbon Tracker. “It’s critical that governments stop propping up an industry that is in decline, and look to accelerate the low-carbon energy transition, and our future, instead.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in May that the development of new oil and gas fields must stop this year to meet climate goals.
The IMF report found that prices were at least 50% below their true costs for 99% of coal, 52% of diesel and 47% of natural gas in 2020. Five countries were responsible for two-thirds of the subsidies: China, the US, Russia, India and Japan. Without action, subsidies will rise to $6.4tn in 2025, the IMF said.
Proper pricing for fossil fuels would cut emissions by, for example, encouraging electricity generators to switch from coal to renewable energy and making electric cars an even cheaper option for motorists. International cooperation is important, Parry said, to allay fears that countries could lose competitiveness if their fossil fuel prices were higher.
“The IMF report is a sobering reading, pointing to one of the major defects of the global economy,” said Maria Pastukhova, at the thinktank e3g. “Fossil fuel subsidies have been a major stumbling block in the G20 process for years,” she said.
Ipek Gencsu, at the Overseas Development Institute, said: “Subsidy reform requires support for vulnerable consumers who will be impacted by rising costs, as well for workers in industries which simply have to shut down. It also requires information campaigns, showing how the savings will be redistributed to society in the form of healthcare, education and other social services. Many people oppose subsidy reform because they see it solely as governments taking something away, and not giving back.”
The G20 countries emit almost 80% of global greenhouse gases.
* Fossil fuel producing countries are lobbying IPCC against climate action.
Some of the world’s biggest coal, oil, beef and animal feed-producing nations are attempting to strip a landmark UN climate report of findings that threaten their domestic economic interests, a major leak of documents seen by Unearthed has revealed.
The revelations – which show how this small group of nations is attempting to undermine the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) major upcoming assessment of the world’s options for limiting global warming – come just days before the start of crucial international climate negotiations in Glasgow.
They come from a leak of tens of thousands of comments by governments, corporations, academics and others on the draft report of the IPCC’s ‘Working Group III’ – an international team of experts that is assessing humanity’s remaining options for curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The documents passed to Unearthed show how fossil fuel producers including Australia, Saudi Arabia and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are lobbying the IPCC – the world’s leading authority on climate change – to remove or weaken a key conclusion that the world needs to rapidly phase out fossil fuels.
* The IEA is misguided to advance nuclear power (see: Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Chernobyl Nuclear disaster, Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown, byproduct nuclear waste that remains radioactive for thousands of years); those who promote carbon capture and storage - to prolong fossil fuels - a totally unproven and wildly expensive non-solution, and any notion of geoengineering is an extremely dangerous proposition.
We call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. (2,000 Scientists, Nobel Prize laureates)
We, the undersigned, call on governments around the world to adopt and implement a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, as a matter of urgency, to protect the lives and livelihoods of present and future generations through a global, equitable phase out of fossil fuels in line with the scientific consensus to not exceed 1.5ºC of warming.
The fossil fuel system and its impacts are global and require a global solution. We call on governments to urgently commence negotiations to develop, adopt and implement a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty laying out a binding global plan to:
End new expansion of fossil fuel production in line with the best available science as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations Environment Programme.
Phase out existing production of fossil fuels in a manner that is fair and equitable, taking into account the respective dependency of countries on fossil fuels, and their capacity to transition;
Invest in a transformational plan to ensure 100% access to renewable energy globally, support fossil fuel-dependent economies to diversify away from fossil fuels, and enable people and communities across the globe to flourish through a global just transition.
The scientific consensus is clear that human activities are primarily responsible for global climate change, and that the climate crisis now represents the greatest threat to human civilization and nature.
The burning of fossil fuels - coal, oil, and gas - is the greatest contributor to climate change, responsible for almost 80% of carbon dioxide emissions since the industrial revolution.
To keep warming to below the temperature goal of 1.5ºC, as reflected in the scientific literature and the IPCC’s special report on 1.5ºC, global greenhouse gas emissions need to be at least 45% lower globally by 2030.
According to the most recent Production Gap Report, this requires an average decline in fossil fuel production of at least 6% per year between 2020-2030. However, the fossil fuel industry is planning to increase production by 2% per year.
It is vital that the global transition towards a zero carbon world is equitable, based on countries' fair share of expected climate action, their historical contribution to climate change and their capacity to act.
This means richer countries must reduce production of fossil fuels at a faster rate than poorer countries that require greater support to transition, including through the redirection of finance and subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
In addition to climate impacts, new research shows that the air pollution caused by fossil fuels was responsible for almost 1 in 5 deaths worldwide in 2018.
These significant health and environmental impacts are derived from the extracting, refining, transporting and burning of fossil fuels and are often borne by vulnerable and marginalised communities.
At the same time, centralised, fossil fuel-generated energy often concentrates power and wealth into the hands of a select few, bypassing the communities in which extraction occurs.
The current dominant approach to tackling climate change focuses on policies that restrict greenhouse gas emissions and the demand for fossil fuels, for example by fostering the growth of substitutes for fossil fuels such as renewable energy and electric vehicles.
But there has been limited focus on policies aimed at constraining the production and supply of fossil fuels at the source. Yet efforts to reduce demand for fossil fuels will be undermined if supply continues to grow.
Continued production means either that fossil fuels will continue to be burnt for energy - pushing the world towards catastrophic global warming - or that the industry and countries reliant on fossil fuels will face massive stranded assets, stranded workers, and stranded economies, as government revenue streams currently relied on for development and public sector employment and essential public services evaporate.
While the Paris Agreement lays an important foundation for action on the demand-side of the equation, without international cooperation and policy processes focusing on the supply of fossil fuels, countries will continue to overshoot their already insufficient emissions targets.
Given the significant historical contribution of fossil fuels to climate change, and the industry’s continuing expansion plans, we are calling for a solution commensurate with the scale of the problem.
Phasing down coal, oil and gas in line with 1.5ºC requires global cooperation, in a way that is fair, equitable and reflects countries’ levels of dependence on fossil fuels, and capacities to transition.
This, in turn, should be underpinned by financial resources, including technology transfer, to enable a just transition for workers and communities in developing countries and a decent life for all.
In this context, we add our voices to the call from civil society, youth leaders, Indigenous Peoples, faith institutions, cities and sub-national governments for a global treaty to address fossil fuels.
Aug. 2021
IPCC Report confirms world is on the brink of breaching major tipping points, near-term climate action is critical. (Climate Action Network, agencies)
Rapid phase out of fossil fuels to reduce emissions drastically within this decade is the only course of action to keep Paris Agreement temperature goal of 1.5°C in sight.
The IPCC WG1 Report was published today as part of the first of three reports under the Sixth Assessment Cycle. This report deals with the physical basis of changing climate systems and comes as extreme weather events continue to make headlines around the world.
The report states with certainty that human activity is wrecking the climate system in unprecedented ways, causing, in some instances, irreversible damage. Without urgent and far-reaching climate action, the world is on a razor’s edge with regards to breaching major tipping points. The window of time to prevent warming beyond 1.5°C is rapidly closing.
Implicit in the report is that rising emissions caused by a destructive dependence of fossil fuels is set to worsen climate catastrophes. While this report does not deal with climate impacts and mitigation pathways, it is clear that support for adaptation and loss and damage is critical now more than ever before, especially for vulnerable communities in poor countries who are least equipped to cope with intensifying climate disasters.
With less than three months before COP26, world leaders, particularly those of the largest emitting countries, must confront this latest science. This report must serve as a catalyst to enhance climate targets, phase-out all fossil fuels and increase climate finance.
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Global Climate & Energy Lead, WWF:
“The report is an important moment in the lead-up to COP26 because it is all about certainty – certainty of the scale of the climate crisis and humankind’s role in driving extreme weather events, certainty of how much we have changed the planet, and certainty that things will continue to get worse unless we immediately change course.
“World leaders must use every opportunity, especially the upcoming G20 Summit and COP26, to deliver climate action that responds to the ambition needed to ensure the 1.5˚C goal of the Paris Agreement does not slip out of reach.”
Dr Stephen Cornelius, Chief Adviser on Climate Change & Global lead on the IPCC, WWF:
“This is a stark assessment of the frightening future that awaits us if we fail to act. With the world on the brink of irreversible harm, every fraction of a degree of warming matters to limit the dangers of climate change. It is clear that keeping global warming to 1.5°C is hugely challenging and can only be done if urgent action is taken globally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect and restore nature.”
Dr Stephan Singer, Senior Adviser, Climate Action Network International:
“Governments must interpret the findings of the latest IPCC report as an alarm bell to phase-out of fossil fuels within this decade. This report must serve as a large nail in the coffin of the fossil fuel industry. The IPCC report today shows we have the highest carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere and the highest amounts of marine acidification since at least two million years.”
“Phasing out fossil fuels, massively deploying renewables, investing in energy efficiency and halting ecosystem destruction is the only obvious political action for a liveable planet. This report also implies that extreme weather events will continue at current rates of warming. This means stronger support is needed for adaptation and risk management for vulnerable communities in poorer countries.”
Dr Kristina Dahl, Senior Climate Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists:
“The latest IPCC report offers a wealth of scientific information that should be elevated and heeded. It provides a deeper understanding of sobering climate tipping points, advances in climate attribution science, and a reporting of regional climate change. While this report underscores the urgent need for climate action, prior IPCC reports and countless other studies, as well as our lived experience, have already given us more than enough evidence to know that we’re in the midst of a crisis brought to us largely by the fossil fuel industry and their political allies. The continued dithering to address climate change is no longer about the lack of scientific evidence, but rather directly tied to a lack of political will.”
Rachel Cleetus, Policy director and Lead Economist, Climate and Energy Program, Union of Concerned Scientists:
“For far too long, policymakers have placed their short-term political interests and the greed of corporations ahead of the needs of their constituents. After spending decades raising the alarm about the overwhelming threats posed by unchecked climate change, our organization is beyond concerned; we’re heartbroken to see worsening, grossly inequitable impacts that could’ve been avoided harming people and critical ecosystems.
We’re also alarmed by the prospect of what lies ahead—especially if nations fail to act. We urge politicians in the United States and around the globe to take stock of this sobering report and set aside their longstanding predilection for incrementalism.”
Kaisa Kosonen, Senior Political Advisor, Greenpeace Nordic:
“While governments crawl towards curbing emissions, inch-by-inch, the climate crisis is right now claiming entire communities with wildfires, extreme flooding, and drought. This IPCC report has strengthened the connection between carbon emissions by humans and worsening climate extremes.
“We are not going to let this report be shelved by further inaction. Instead, we’ll be taking it with us to the courts. One only needs to look at the recent court victory secured by civil society groups against Shell to realise how powerful IPCC science can be.”
Li Shuo, Senior Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace East Asia:
“The scientific evidence of climate change and its impact is clear. This summer’s floods have just made it real for China. There is no reason to shy away from urgent action. Stopping the construction of China’s coal-fired power plants will greatly contribute to global climate momentum. Doing so is economically sound and is ultimately in China’s self-interest.”
Dr Doug Parr, Chief Scientist, Greenpeace UK:
“This is not the first generation of world leaders to be warned by scientists about the gravity of the climate crisis, but they’re the last that can afford to ignore them. The increasing frequency, scale and intensity of climate disasters that have scorched and flooded many parts of the world in recent months is the result of past inaction. Unless world leaders finally start to act on these warnings, things will get much, much worse.”
Steve Trent, CEO and founder, Environmental Justice Foundation:
​​“The IPCC’s latest report is an important piece of rigorous science, but it doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know. We know that the climate crisis is here. We know that people are dying, from climate-driven storms, floods, wildfires, heatwaves, drought and famine, around the world. We know that while northern, industrialised nations are also suffering, the greatest impacts of climate breakdown are being felt by the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, those who have done the least to contribute to the heating of our planet.
If we do act ambitiously, with a foundation of environmental justice, we will see new jobs, economic revitalization, and reinvigoration of our relationship with the natural world, making us happier and healthier.”
Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy, CAFOD:
“No ifs, no buts, this report is clear it’s an urgent fight to keep below 1.5 degree warming and avoid the destruction that entails, especially for those living in poverty. Prime Minister Johnson, we need you to throw everything at this with less than 100 days to COP26 – we are at a crisis point.
“We cannot preach to countries with fragile economies and crippling global debt to divest from fossil fuels if we are still investing in oil fields, such as Cambo Sands in the Shetlands, behind closed doors. Such hypocrisy makes a mockery of Britain on the global stage, and we must reject it if we are to have any semblance of credibility amongst the international community.”
Sineia do Vale, Environmental Manager, Indigenous Council of Roraima:
“This report sadly tells us nothing that we are not already all too aware of. We are steering the planet on the course to disaster. Indigenous peoples around the world have felt this environmental crisis but we are resilient because we have strategies – what we need is firm commitments from global leaders to support us so we can continue the fight for our land and lives.
The AR6 WG1 report may paint a bleak picture, but it is vital that we commit to the 1.5°C target under the Paris Agreement, for not just the future of the Amazon, but for all countries and communities. Now is the time for urgent, radical action – not more empty promises.”
Stela Herschmann, Climate and Policy Specialist, Climate Observatory:
“The message from the IPCC is crystal-clear: change course now and brace for more impact. Scientists’ worst predictions are becoming true faster than expected, tipping points are approaching and the only acceptable emissions level is zero.”
Dr Simon Bradshaw, Head of Research, Climate Council of Australia:
“The most important climate science update for almost a decade shows there is a path to avoiding climate catastrophe, but only through immediate, deep and sustained emissions reductions. This may be our final warning.”
“Climate change is already wreaking havoc around the world. Our decisions today will be the difference between a liveable future for today’s young people, and a future that is incompatible with well-functioning human societies.”
“Every choice and every fraction of a degree of avoided warming matters. The right choices will be measured in lives, livelihoods, species and ecosystems saved. Australia, as a major emitter and blessed with unrivalled potential for renewable energy, simply has to step up with a far stronger commitment ahead of COP26.”
Wendel Trio, Director, Climate Action Network Europe:
“Arriving at a time when we are witnessing devastating forest fires and floods in Europe, this report must be followed by adequate action which is currently still missing. We call on the EU to step up its efforts for accelerating the transformation towards a climate-neutral continent, as current plans are insufficient to keep the 1.5°C limit agreed in the Paris Agreement within reach by 2030. This report adds further weight to the need for European lawmakers to make the ‘Fit for 55’ climate and legislative package into a set of policies and measures that fit for 1.5°C.”
Nick Mabey, Chief Executive, E3G:
“This updated scientific consensus shows all countries are more exposed to higher climate risks than previously thought. The current climate disasters impacting across the world have brought home the vulnerability of even the richest and most powerful countries. At Glasgow, the big polluters need to step up and cut emissions faster as well as giving more help to those unable to protect themselves from climate impacts.”
Catherine Pettengell, Director, Climate Action Network UK:
“The urgency of action could not be more clear. Today the IPCC has issued what could be seen as the final warning. World leaders must listen and must act – both for their own nations to thrive, and in solidarity with those on the front line of the climate crisis.
The window is still open for avoiding the worst impacts and risks, but not be for much longer. Responsibility now sits on the shoulders of all world leaders to deliver at COP26.”
Miriam Talwisa, National Coordinator, Climate Action Network, Uganda:
“Now more than ever, our leaders must redouble efforts to stop the climate crisis. As communities in Kasese- Southwestern parts of Uganda continue to suffer under ever increasing, intense and persistent annual floods that can be linked to the effects of receding glaciers of the Rwenzori Mountain. The need to improve links between the latest research and decisions by policymakers cannot be overemphasized. This IPCC report should challenge political leaders into preparing and implementing NDCs that are sufficiently ambitious to contribute to mitigative measures that will sustainable support resilience for systems and people.”
Teresa Anderson, Climate Policy Coordinator, ActionAid International:
“This stark warning from the IPCC confirms the reality already experienced by communities around the world. More frequent and intense heatwaves, droughts, fires, floods and cyclones are wreaking havoc on lives and ecosystems. Women and young people in the Global South are being hit especially hard by climate extremes and changing weather patterns.
“The IPCC tells us that limiting average global warming to 1.5°C is going to be difficult – but not impossible. This new report drills home the message that policymakers need to get serious. We urgently need radical and transformative action to bring emissions down to real zero. Unfortunately, too many ‘net zero’ climate plans are being used to greenwash pollution and business-as-usual, jeopardising the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“Looking ahead to COP26, rich countries that have done the most to cause the climate problem need to face up to their dual responsibility. They need to provide real support to poor countries hit by escalating climate impacts, and they need to get serious about urgent climate action.”
Agnes Hall, Campaign Director,
“This IPCC WGI report is a stark warning that humankind is on a collision course with nature. But the climate crisis didn’t come from nowhere and its progression is not inevitable.”
“For decades fossil fuel companies have known that the expansion of fossil fuels would eventually cause dramatic climate impacts. Half of all the CO2 emitted since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution was emitted over the last 30 years.”
“The good news is that we can still stop the worst case scenarios from ever materializing, if we kick our fossil fuel addiction now. But let’s be clear. Distant future net zero pledges are not going to get the job done. No climate plan that doesn’t include phasing out fossil fuels is a real climate plan.”
Eddy Pérez, International Climate Diplomacy Manager, Climate Action Network Canada:
“This report confirms that limiting global warming to 1.5C is simply not negotiable. It is the only choice for a safe and healthy future, and it’s still possible. We need to fight to restore our broken relationship with nature and with ourselves; we need to fight back against any delays to urgent climate action. There is no substitute for phasing out fossil fuels and cutting emissions in half this decade.”
Kimiko Hirata, International Director, Kiko Network, Coordinator, Climate Action Network Japan:
“People around the world are witnessing devastating extreme events. The Tokyo Olympics now being held amid a deadly heatwave put sports athletes in danger. Guided by the compelling scientific evidence articulated by the new report, we must commit to accelerate actions to limit temperature rise to 1.5 C. Japan has to take further serious actions. Coal phase out, including stopping building new coal, is clearly a priority.”
Rhiannon Niven, Global Climate Change Policy Coordinator, BirdLife International: “Scientists have again found the climate crisis is worsening at a dangerous rate. It is clear that nature has a role to play in delivering net-zero through nature-sensitive renewables, ecosystem protection and restoration, and adaptation. Governments must urgently address the nature and climate crises together and deliver action at COP26 to protect lives and ecosystems for a green recovery.”
Dr Ruth Valerio, Director of Advocacy and Influencing, Tearfund:
“The IPCC report makes it painfully clear that we are in a fight for survival and can’t afford distant promises of action. The door is still open on limiting warming to 1.5C – but only if world leaders make swift cuts to emissions and end further support for polluting fossil fuels. It’s time for politicians to stop dragging their feet and do what needs to be done to secure a safer world for us all. Anything less is accepting a death sentence for people at the frontline of this crisis.”
Chikondi Chabvuta, Southern Africa Policy Lead, CARE Malawi:
“This IPCC report is not only about climatic catastrophes, it is also about human suffering. Every fraction of a degree matters to the people already on the frontline of the climate emergency. With every fraction of a degree, it becomes harder for vulnerable communities to escape the cycle of poverty and inequality created by climate change. With each additional flood or drought, it becomes harder for women and young people especially to pick themselves back up again.”
“We have already seen more extreme heat and precipitation, more drought, and more powerful hurricanes, and the IPCC tells us that these conditions will become more and more severe. It’s time for rich nations to take on their responsibility for the critical state of the planet and they can start by living up to their commitments to help with funding for adaptation in less wealthy countries. At present they spend only around $20 billion a year out of the promised $50 billion. That is a disgrace, and should be dealt with as a matter of priority before COP26.”
Sanjay Vashist, Director, Climate Action Network South Asia:
“In recent months the world has watched in horror as floods, fires, heatwaves, drought and cyclones have left a trail of disaster, killing hundreds across Asia, China, Africa, Europe and North America. Today’s IPCC report, from the best scientists of the world, notes that similar events are expected to be more frequent and severe in the warming world.”
“South Asian governments must keep the findings of this report in front of their minds as they plot the future course of action for economic recovery. This is a race against time. The phase out of fossil fuels, enhanced resilience building and robust regional cooperation are the decisions that need to be taken together. Developed countries must support developing countries with finance and technology to avoid the worst-case climate scenarios.”
Saleemul Huq, director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development, Bangladesh:
"The new IPCC report is not a drill but the final warning that bubble of empty promises is about to burst. G20 countries rapidly need to switch gears and this time stick to the pledges of delivering policies that ensure that we don't exceed 1.5C warming by the end of the century. "It's suicidal, and economically irrational to keep procrastinating. The course of action is crystal clear."
Mohamed Adow, director, Power Shift Africa:
"Those of us living in Africa have been aware of the urgency of the climate crisis for many years. Lives and livelihoods have been shattered by overwhelming heat, rising seas and extreme weather.
"It is vital that governments heed the warning of the IPCC's scientists and act with speed and boldness to make our world safer, cleaner and greener. "This is not a simple question of succeed or fail, every fraction of a degree of heating is important, each decision, each coal plant closed or oil pipeline cancelled has a material impact on those of us living on the frontlines."
Nafkote Dabi, Climate Policy Lead - Oxfam International:
“Amid a world in parts burning, in parts drowning and in parts starving, the IPCC today tables the most compelling wake-up call yet for global industry to switch from oil, gas and coal to renewables. Governments must use law to compel this urgent change. Citizens must use their own political power and behaviors to push big polluting corporations and governments in the right direction. There is no Plan B”.
“Over the past 10 years, more people have been forced from their homes by extreme weather-related disasters than for any other single reason ―20 million a year, or one person every two seconds. The number of climate-related disasters has tripled in 30 years. Since 2000, the UN estimates that 1.23 million people have died and 4.2 billion have been affected by droughts, floods and wildfires”.
“The IPCC, describes humanity’s slimmest chance to keep global warming to 1.5°C and avert planetary ruin. It sets the agenda for a make-or-break climate summit in Glasgow later this year. This report is yet more unimpeachable proof that climate change is happening now, and that global warming is already one of the most harmful drivers of worsening hunger and starvation, migration, poverty and inequality all over the world.”
Helen Mountford, vice president of climate and economics, World Resources Institute:
"The current news headlines about deadly flooding, forest fires and droughts happening around the world are like scenes from a dystopian science fiction novel, yet these are manifestations of the global warming that our climate pollution has already baked into the system".

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