Call for a treaty to stop the fossil madness


In a newsletter on 23 December 2022, Harjeet Singh wrote:

“2022 was the year that the Fossil Fuel Treaty evolved from a conceptual solution to a proposal that people want on the table, as proven by its substantial backing from two countries, 74 cities, over 500 parliamentarians, and diverse representatives from multiple sectors. 

Here are our top ten highlights of the year:

  1. At COP27, the Fossil Fuel Treaty became the talk of the town thanks to a historic endorsement from Tuvalu during their world leaders’ address. This built on the momentum from only 2 months before when Vanuatu became the first nation-state to endorse the Treaty at the UN General Assembly.
  2. Despite the disappointing inaction on fossil fuel phaseout at this year’s UN climate talks, the loss and damage fund was a win for vulnerable communities from the Global South, and only strengthened the case for a Fossil Fuel Treaty. After all, more fossil fuels equals more loss and damage.
  3. The European Parliament passed a resolution calling on nation-states to develop a Fossil Fuel Treaty as part of their demands ahead of COP27. In direct response to this, Brussels-Capital region, the headquarters of the European Union, endorsed the treaty and committed to move away from fossil fuels as part of their Climate Energy Plan.
  4. An additional 39 cities came out this year to back the Treaty, some of the most recent being Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, and Turin, a first for Italy. Other important endorsements include London, the largest city to endorse, and Belem, the first to lend its support in the Amazon. At the World Mayors Summit in Argentina, C40 Cities Chair Sadiq Khan urged fellow government leaders to endorse the Fossil Fuel Treaty!
  5. The treaty saw a diversification of voices in the grassroots movement, with an outpour of support from faith leaders of different religionshealth institutions including the World Health Organization, and youth. We also gained over half a million signatures on Tuvalu’s public petition for a Fossil Fuel Treaty!
  6. At Stockholm+50, the UN finally recognized the need to phase out fossil fuels.
  7. We welcomed the launch of the Global Registry of Fossil Fuels developed by Carbon Tracker and Global Energy Monitor, the first-ever fully public database on the production of coal, oil and gas — marking a crucial step in holding governments accountable on their fossil fuel production.
  8. In collaboration with the University of Sussex, we created the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Policy Tracker, an open-sourced interactive tool to track supply-side policies on fossil fuels around the globe.
  9. We released and supported the development of multiple reports this year such as ‘Fuelling Failure‘ on the relation of SDGs to fossil fuels, and the ‘Fossil Fuelled Fallacy‘ about the ‘dash for gas’ in Africa.
  10. We grew our audience significantly through our engagement with the media, earning over 3,700 mentions of Treaty on articles spanning multiple languages. The GuardianThe New York TimesLe MondeCBC, and Financial Times were just some of the notable outlets to feature us.

You can read the full newsletter here.


In a newsletter on 5 December 2022 the American group Declare Emergency wrote:

“More than 636 fossil fuel lobbyists attended COP27, 25% more than COP26. And 95% of COP27 sponsors – including banks, companies involved in building and operating gas-fired power plants as well as silicon valley giants – have links to the fossil fuel industry.

Here’s George Monbiot summing up COP27 in the Guardian (his piece is worth reading in its entirety):

“The rich world’s governments arrived at the conference in Egypt saying “it’s now or never”. They left saying “how about never?”. We sail through every target and objective, red line and promised restraint towards a future in which the possibility of anyone’s existence starts to dwindle towards zero. Every life is a madly improbable gift. For how much longer will we sit and watch while our governments throw it all away?”  

Our “leaders” are betraying us – they’re selling our futures to enable Big Oil to eek out a few more years of profits.  


Our “leaders” didn’t call for a phaseout of fossil fuels.

They didn’t extract new commitments from any country to reduce GHGs.

They didn’t offer incentives to adopt clean energy.

They didn’t adopt or advocate for policies to reduce the use of combustion engines.

They didn’t incentivize agricultural reform to reduce filth from that industry.

They didn’t follow through on their 2015 commitment to provide $100B per year in aid to enable poor countries to adapt and convert their economies to clean power.  


Mainstream media hailed as “historic” a relatively small commitment by rich countries to establish a fund for poor countries to pay for damage and loss due to climate change.

We guess COP27’s “historic” agreement is supposed to be different than the “historic” 2015 Paris Accords, when rich countries agreed to provide an “historic” $100B / year to enable poorer countries to mitigate global warming’s impact.

But these 2 “historic” agreements have one important thing in common: in both cases, details as to how exactly the funds are to be collected and distributed were left undetermined. Unsurprisingly, we note that the “historic” $100B / year Paris Accords commitment hasn’t been honored – not even close.

Words. Words on a piece of paper.


What about the marquee commitment of the Paris Accords – to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade?

In the words of one of the world’s preeminent climate scientists, James Hansen, in 2021,:

“Gases are growing as fast as ever… Boris Johnson claimed that the 1.5°C goal was still achievable. That… is pure, unadulterated bullshit. There is now no chance whatever of keeping global warming below 1.5°C.”

And here’s Johan Rockstrom, an eminent Swedish scientist and a director at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

“Time is really running out very, very fast. I must say, in my professional life as a climate scientist, this is a low point. The window for 1.5C is shutting as I speak, so it’s really tough.”

If you’re not screaming, disrupting, acting against the willful inaction of our leaders, you are enabling their destruction of our futures.”

Non-proliferation treaty for fossil fuels

At COP27, the EU was pushing a vote to make oil and gas as repugnant as nuclear weapons. So the Anthropocene Magazine asked: “Does the world need a non-proliferation treaty for fossil fuels?”

By Mark Harris

You can’t accuse Europe of not taking climate change seriously. Last month, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for a Fossil Fuels Non-Proliferation Treaty. The EU wants nation states to commit to ending expansion of fossil fuel extraction, phasing out existing production, and enabling a global just transition to renewable and sustainable fuels. It’s a bold move that references the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a 20th-century agreement dedicated to restricting the spread of nuclear weapons worldwide. But, does it now make sense to treat systems that billions rely on for food, heating, and transportation, the same as we treat apocalyptic weapons of mass destruction? 

The Case for a Fossil Fuels Non Proliferation Treaty 

1.  An idea that’s reached critical mass. The concept of a Fossil Fuel NPT has been slowly gathering momentum since it was first proposed in 2015. It has been endorsed by the Vatican, the Dalai Lama, the World Health Organization, thousands of scientists, and now the EU. They think that free markets alone can never move fast enough to solve our carbon crisis. 

2.  Planetary-scale diplomacy has paid off. Fifty years after the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the number of warheads on Earth has shrunk by 80%. And global agreements are not just for weapons. The 1987 Montreal Protocol—the only treaty ever to have been ratified by every single UN member state—has successfully reduced the level of ozone-depleting CFC gasses in the atmosphere. In 2016, the Protocol was amended to limit their replacements, HFCs. Although these don’t deplete ozone, they are powerful greenhouse gasses.

3.  Decarbonization can and should be more equitable. Developing nations are set to bear the brunt of climate change impacts, and already suffer the majority of deaths caused by fossil fuel-related air pollution – accounting for almost one in five fatalities worldwide, according to The Lancet. The EU’s plan is that developing nations will get money from Western countries to manage their transition. A two-tier system has worked before, with the Montreal Treaty granting poorer nations five extra years to wean themselves off CFCs and HFCs.  

The Case Against 

1.  Carbon isn’t plutonium. There’s a big difference between an atomic bomb and a gas-powered hospital or a coal-fired school. Withholding the same cheap energy from developing nations that got rich countries to where they are is morally dubious, and could be practically ineffective. The air travel alone of 1 percent of the world’s population generates over twice the carbon emissions of the planet’s 29 poorest countries combined.

2.  Vastly different price tags. Giving up CFCs has been surprisingly cheap. The Montreal Protocol included a global fund to help convert manufacturing processes. Since 1991, it has paid out around $3.7 billion. The UN estimates the costs of decarbonizing the world economy to reach net zero by 2050 at $125 trillion—over 30,000 times as expensive as phasing down CFCs. 

3.  Nationalism isn’t going away. India didn’t sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the 1960s, decrying it as neo-colonial lecturing by Western powers that would enshrine nuclear “haves” and “have-nots.” The world’s largest democracy went on to develop its own nuclear missiles. In today’s post-Cold War, post-globalized world, the tension between national and planetary interests has hardly weakened, and may even be growing stronger. 

What To Keep An Eye On 

1.  Will the West put its money where its treaty is? Talking about supporting poorer nations to decarbonize is a lot easier than paying for it. The current level of climate-related development global financing is less than 1.5 percent of projected needs, says the World Bank, and rich nations still attract three quarters of that.

2.  A growing patchwork of moratoriums. Even without a global treaty, the ideas behind a Fossil Fuels NPT are materializing at the national level. In September, Ecuador joined Costa Rica, New Zealand, France and Belize in announcing a moratorium on new oil exploration and production. The latest UK prime minister has re-committed the country to its fracking ban, alongside Germany, France, Spain, and others.  

3.  The big stories from COP27. Sadly, there’s usually only room for one or two concepts to go mainstream from a global climate conference like COP. Will discussions around missed emissions targets, loss and damages, or greenwashing drown out calls for a fossil fuels NPT? 

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