People's Stories Environment

We call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty
by 2,000 Scientists, Nobel Prize laureates, agencies
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.

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Youth call time on decades of 'empty' climate promises
by AFP, All4Climate2021, agencies
25 Oct. 2021
Ongoing rises in greenhouse gas concentrations jeopardizes Paris Agreement temperature targets. (WMO)
The abundance of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere once again reached a new record last year, with the annual rate of increase above the 2011-2020 average. That trend has continued in 2021, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.
Concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the most important greenhouse gas, reached 413.2 parts per million in 2020 and is 149% of the pre-industrial level. Methane (CH4) is 262% and nitrous oxide (N2O) is 123% of the levels in 1750 when human activities started disrupting Earth’s natural equilibrium.
The economic slowdown from COVID-19 did not have any discernible impact on the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases and their growth rates.
As long as emissions continue, global temperature will continue to rise. Given the long life of CO2, the temperature level already observed will persist for several decades even if emissions were to rapidly reduce to net zero.
Alongside rising temperatures, this means more weather extremes including intense heat and rainfall, ice melt, sea-level rise and ocean acidification, accompanied by far-reaching socioeconomic impacts.
Roughly half of the CO2 emitted by human activities today remains in the atmosphere. The other half is taken up by oceans and land ecosystems. The Bulletin flagged concern that the ability of land ecosystems and oceans to act as “sinks” may become less effective in future, thus reducing their ability to absorb carbon dioxide and act as a buffer against larger temperature increase.
The Bulletin shows that from 1990 to 2020, radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate - by long-lived greenhouse gases increased by 47%, with CO2 accounting for about 80% of this increase. The numbers are based on monitoring by WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch network.
“The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin contains a stark, scientific message for climate change negotiators at COP26. At the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, we will see a temperature increase by the end of this century far in excess of the Paris Agreement targets of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas. “We are way off track.”
“The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere breached the milestone of 400 parts per million in 2015. And just five years later, it exceeded 413 ppm. This is more than just a chemical formula and figures on a graph. It has major negative repercussions for our daily lives and well-being, for the state of our planet and for the future of our children and grandchildren,” said Prof. Taalas.
“Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for centuries and in the ocean for even longer. The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now. But there weren’t 7.8 billion people then,” said Prof. Taalas.
“Many countries are now setting carbon neutral targets (for the distant future of 2050 and 2060, when immediate action is demanded now, with at a minimum 50% reductions in green gas emissions by 2030) and it is hoped that COP26 will see a dramatic increase in commitments. We need to transform our commitment into action that will have an impact of the gases that drive climate change. We need to revisit our industrial, agricultural, energy and transport systems and whole way of life. The needed changes are economically affordable and technically possible. There is no time to lose,” said Prof. Taalas.
7 Oct. 2021
Unprecedented rise of heat and rainfall extremes in observational data - Potsdam Institute for Climate Research
A 90-fold increase in the frequency of monthly heat extremes in the past ten years compared to 1951-1980 has been found by scientists in observation data. Their analysis reveals that so-called 3-sigma heat events, which deviate strongly from what is normal in a given region, now on average affect about 9 percent of all land area at any time.
Record daily rainfall events also increased in a non-linear way – on average, 1 in 4 rainfall records in the last decade can be attributed to climate change. Already today, extreme events linked to human-caused climate change are at unprecedented levels, the scientists say, and they must be expected to increase further.
“For extreme extremes, what we call 4-sigma-events that have been virtually absent before, we even see a roughly 1000-fold increase compared to the reference period. They affected about 3 percent of global land area in 2011-20 in any month,” says lead-author Alexander Robinson from Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany. “This confirms previous findings, yet with ever-increasing numbers. We are seeing extremes now which are virtually impossible without the influence of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.”
The term ‘sigma’ refers to what scientists call a standard deviation. For example, 2020 brought prolonged heat waves to both Siberia and Australia, contributing to the emergence of devastating wildfires in both regions. Both events led to the declaration of a local state of emergency.
Temperatures at life-threatening levels have hit parts of the US and Canada in 2021, reaching almost 50°C. Globally, the record-breaking heat extremes increased most in tropical regions, since these normally have a low variability of monthly temperatures. As temperatures continue to rise, however, record-breaking heat will also become much more common".
Small temperature increase, disproportionally big consequences
Comparing the new data with the already quite extreme previous decade of 2000-2010, the data show that the land area affected by heat extremes of the 3-sigma category roughly doubled. Those deviations which are so strong they have previously been essentially absent, the 4-sigma events, newly emerged in the observations. Rainfall records have increased a further 5 percentage points in the last decade. The seemingly small amount of warming in the past ten years, just 0.25°C, has thus pushed up climate extremes substantially.
“These data show that extremes are now far outside the historical experience. Extreme heat and extreme rainfall are increasing disproportionally,” says co-author Stefan Rahmstorf, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Our analysis confirms once again that for the impacts of global heating on us humans, every tenth of a degree matters.”
* Climate change could bring near-unliveable conditions for 3 billion people by 2070, say scientists. Each degree of warming above present levels corresponds to roughly 1bn people falling outside of ‘climate niche’:
28 Sep. 2021
Young climate activists Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate have condemned global leaders' response to the planetary crisis, with Thunberg calling it "a betrayal of all present and future generations."
"Our leaders are lost," said Nakate from Uganda, "and our planet is damaged."
Their blunt remarks came in keynote addresses at the opening of the three-day Youth4Climate summit in Milan. Hundreds of young people are gathered there for in-person working groups to finalise proposals to present to ministers at the Pre-COP in Milan later this month and COP 26 United Nations climate talks starting next month in Glasgow.
Simply focusing on adaptation measures, as Nakate put it, amounts to climate injustice. "You cannot adapt to starvation. You cannot adapt to extinction," she said. "How long must children sleep hungry because their farms have been washed away, because their crops have been dried up because of the extreme weather conditions?" she asked attendees.
"How long are we to watch them die of thirst and gasp for air in the floods? World leaders watch this happen and allow this to continue."
"Why is it so easy for leaders to open up new coal power plants, construct oil pipelines, and extract gas—which are all destroying our climate," Nakate said, "but so hard for them to acknowledge that loss and damage is here with us now?"
"Climate action is not a pick-and-choose," she continued, referencing the need to avert future impacts but also "deal with the loss and damage that is already happening."
"It's time for leaders to put loss and damage at the center of negotiation," said Nakate. "It's time to acknowledge that there's need for additional funding on top of what has already been promised for the most vulnerable. It's time for our leaders to wake up!"
"It’s time to show us the money," she said. "It's time, it's time, it's time."
Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg slammed governments for "shamelessly congratulating themselves" for insufficient pledges to cut emissions and promises of financing. "There is no Planet B, there is no planet blah, blah, blah," Thunberg said to warm applause.
Echoing a speech by COP26 summit host Boris Johnson in April, she continued: "This is not about some expensive politically correct dream of bunny hugging, or build back better, blah blah blah, green economy, blah blah blah, net zero by 2050, blah blah blah, climate neutral blah blah blah.
"This is all we hear from our so-called leaders: words, words that sound great but so far have led to no action, our hopes and dreams drowned in their empty words and promises," said Thunberg. "Our leaders' intentional lack of action is a betrayal of all present and future generations," said Thunberg.
She said governments had been "shamelessly congratulating themselves while still failing to come up with the long overdue funding" for developing nations.
"It's time for our leaders to stop talking and start acting, it's time for the polluters to pay, it's time to keep promises," said Nakate. "No more empty promises, no more empty summits, no more empty conferences. It's time to show us the money."

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