On the eve of the United Nations General Assembly earlier this month, 2,185 scientists and academics from 81 countries delivered an open letter to the attending governments demanding a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to will bring about a phasing out of the global reliance on coal, gas, and oil.
The open letter acknowledges the scientific consensus that the climate crisis is the greatest imminent threat to humanity, and that the burning of fossil fuels is the leading contributor to climate change. The signatories emphasize that reliance on fossil fuels is a global problem that must be addressed at the global level.
“This letter is just the latest demand in this campaign, building on the momentum from 700 civil society organizations and 13 cities globally who have endorsed the calling for a treaty, and a letter from 101 Nobel Laureates earlier this year calling for a phase out of fossil fuels,”* Michael Poland, engagement director for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, said in a statement shared with Buddhistdoor Global.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama and 100 other prominent Nobel Prize laureates marked Earth Day on 22 April with a joint letter, published in the run-up to the US-hosted Leaders Summit on Climate, with a clear message for the world’s leading economies: take action now to “keep fossil fuels in the ground.”* In his personal public message to mark Earth Day, the Dalai Lama observed that environmental stewardship should be a part of everyone’s life. His Holiness offered an appeal to his “brothers and sisters throughout the world to look at both the challenges and the opportunities before us on this one blue planet that we share.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
The public letter from the 2,185 scientists and academics reads, in part:
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.
The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative is aimed at bolstering international cooperation to end new development of fossil fuels, to phase out existing production within the agreed climate limit of 1.5°C, and to develop plans to support workers, communities, and countries that are dependent on fossil fuels, with an underlying objective to create secure and healthy livelihoods.
Signatories to the open letter include Michael E. Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Pennsylvania State University; NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus; Erica Chenoweth, Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at Harvard University; Mark Z. Jacobson, professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University; Priyamvada Gopal, Professor of Postcolonial Studies in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge; Julia Steinberger, professor of Ecological Economics at the University of Lausanne; French economist Gaël Giraud; and Canadian academic and environmental activist David Suzuki.
“The world’s leading scientists could not be clearer—coal, oil, and gas are the primary cause of the climate crisis and are responsible for nearly one in every five deaths worldwide,” said Rebecca Byrnes, deputy director of the Treaty Initiative. “Any ‘net-zero’ policy that allows for the continued expansion of these weapons of mass destruction is insufficient. Just as governments came together to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals, or end the proliferation of nuclear weapons, they must now urgently negotiate a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.” (The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty)
* Dalai Lama Joins Nobel Laureates in Earth Day Appeal to Eliminate Fossil Fuels (Buddhistdoor Global)
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