Vanuatu calls for treaty to end fossil fuel era

Beautiful beach on Efate Island in Vanuatu
Efate Island, Vanuatu (Image: Shutterstock)

Vanuatu has called on other nations to join them in establishing a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty—a proposed international mechanism that aims to explicitly address the source of 86% of CO2 emissions that cause climate change. 

The President of Vanuatu His Excellency Nikenike Vurobaravu made the historic call on the floor of the UN General Assembly, making Vanuatu the first nation-state to call for an international mechanism to stop the expansion of all new fossil fuel projects, and manage a global just transition away from coal, oil and gas. 

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The call for a managed phase out of fossil fuels from Vanuatu also shines a spotlight on coal and gas producers in the region, particularly Australia who has enough fossil fuel reserves alone to use the remaining carbon budget according to data released by Carbon Tracker

In his speech, President Nikenike Vurobaravu said, “Every day we are experiencing more debilitating consequences of the climate crisis. Fundamental human rights are being violated, and we are measuring climate change not in degrees of Celsius or tons of carbon, but in human lives. Our youth are terrified of the future world we are handing to them through expanding fossil fuel dependency, compromising inter-generational trust and equity. 

“We call for the development of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to phase down coal, oil and gas production in line with 1.5ºC, and enable a global just transition for every worker, community and nation with fossil fuel dependence.”

The call for a Fossil Fuel Treaty has already been endorsed by more than 65 cities and subnational governments around the globe, including London, Lima, Kolkata, Sydney and the Australian Capital Territory. Recently the proposal was endorsed by World Health Organisation and the Vatican.

Significant momentum has built behind the proposal in recent months and Vanuatu’s call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is a pivotal step towards building formal diplomatic support for the proposal. Similar moments were pivotal in the legal pathway towards treaties to manage the threats of nuclear weapons and landmines.

Senator David Pocock welcomed Vanuatu’s call for a Fossil Fuel Treaty saying, “It’s great to see Vanuatu display this leadership, spearheading the push for a faster and better coordinated global transition away from fossil fuels. For many of our Pacific Island neighbours, climate change is an existential threat. Australia needs to step up and show leadership in the region by taking swift and decisive action. 

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“I am proud to represent the Australian Capital Territory, which supports the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and I call on global leaders to get on the right side of history and give it their backing too. The world dealt with the hole in the ozone created by CFCs with the Montreal Protocol, a coordinated and concerted global effort. We can do the same with greenhouse gas emissions.”

Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP said, “If Labor wants to be a serious player on climate and host international negotiations it needs to stop new coal and gas. Australia should join its Pacific neighbour Vanuatu in the push for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

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