Though there are not many takers of the idea that was born in 2015 from small Pacific islands, the call has gained momentum here on the sidelines of COP28 at a time when many countries have not opted for the phasing out language for the fossil fuel keeping in view their respective national interests.
The call for a treaty on the non-proliferation of fossil fuels will, however, continue.
Strengthening the demand, Nauru – a tiny island nation, northeast of Australia – on Monday joined the group as its 12th member demanding a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.
The other countries in this block are Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Tonga, Fiji, Niue, the Solomon Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Timor-Leste, Palau, Colombia and Samoa.
These nations are collectively spearheading a push to secure a mandate to negotiate a new international mechanism to manage fossil fuels phase-out and finance a just and equitable global transition away from oil, gas and coal.
Responding to the COP28 presidency draft text on global stocktake (GST), Alex Rafalowicz, executive director of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, said, “The Presidency promised a historic outcome on the transition away from fossil fuels, but what we got so far is a maze of dangerous distractions made to confuse us. The draft text doesn’t deliver on what we are here for and instead is filled with intentionally vague words”.
“It’s taken decades for the UNFCCC to even mention fossil fuels, and yet we continue to see weak language as well as unproven technologies pushed significantly through the text. How long will it take to negotiate science-aligned phase out dates for fossil fuels? We need to move faster and effectively in addressing the root causes of the climate crisis, and we’ve seen political will from countries like Colombia and Island States in the Pacific and the Caribbean to do so. So-called climate leaders cannot return to their people with this proposal, it completely misses the urgency of the crisis.”
Meanwhile, another group of nations under the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) urged all countries to join them in calling for the global phase out of all fossil fuels. BOGA, launched at COP26 in Glasgow by Denmark and Costa Rica, aims to deliver a climate and energy-secure future by ensuring that the phase-out of oil and gas production is central to international climate negotiations.
The Alliance has 24 countries as members including France, Sweden, Spain, Finland, Portugal, Ireland and Colombia.
Calling for the “global phase-out of all fossil fuels”, the Alliance urged all countries to achieve net zero CO2 no later than 2050 and limit global average temperatures to 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900) under the negotiated outcomes of COP28.
“This must include a peak in fossil fuel production and consumption this decade, to peak emissions by 2025, alongside targets on the scaling of renewable energy and the improvement of energy efficiency,” said the Alliance in its statement, signed by member countries.
Addressing the plenary, COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber urged countries to now come to a consensus and deliver the highest ambition decision in response to the GST.
As the text released on Monday delivers on the Paris Agreement, calling for global peaking of emissions by 2025, tripling renewables and doubling energy efficiency, and calling for a reduction in consumption and production of fossil fuels in line with net-zero by 2050, Al Jaber emphasized the need to focus on closing out the toughest issues, and for countries to show even more flexibility to get to the finish line.
“Together, we have the opportunity to deliver history again. We can send a signal to the world that multilateralism does actually work, that this process can respond to what the science is telling us, that it can deliver for the most vulnerable, and keep 1.5 (degree Celsius of warming goal) within reach. We need to focus everyone on closing out the toughest issues that continue to remain. I need all parties (countries) to show even more flexibility to get us to the finish line. The world is watching. Let’s not rest until we get this done,” he said.