Photo: Kausea Natano, Tuvalu's Prime Minister; Source: Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative

COP27 brings another call for international framework to end fossil fuel era

As the COP27 puts the limelight on climate action, Tuvalu becomes the second nation-state to call for an international mechanism, which would phase out fossil fuels and pave the way for the transition to renewable and low-carbon energy.

Tuvalu made this call earlier this week, backing Vanuatu, which became the first nation-state to call for the development of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty in September 2022. Just like Vanuatu, Tuvalu called on other nations to join in establishing a proposed international mechanism to effectively regulate fossil fuel production and enable “a clear, fair pathway for a shift to renewables” in a bid to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement

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During his formal address at the UN Climate Talks in Sharm El-Sheikh, Kausea Natano, Tuvalu’s Prime Minister, remarked: “We all know that the leading cause of the climate crisis is fossil fuels. Tuvalu has joined Vanuatu and other nations in calling for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to steer our development model to pursue renewables and a just transition away from fossil fuels.” 

Furthermore, Natano’s speech comes with the backdrop of “loss and damage as a central issue for the COP27 climate negotiations,” since Tuvalu faces the prospect of its islands disappearing and this issue is expected to “only escalate with every fraction of warming.” According to the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty initiative, “fossil fuels are the primary cause of this loss and damage,” with coal, oil and gas fueling 86 per cent of the CO2 emissions in the past decade. 

Tzeporah Berman, Chair of the Fossil Fuel Treaty Initiative, commented:“Vanuatu and Tuvalu are the first countries to call for a new treaty as a companion to the Paris Agreement to align oil, gas and coal production with a global carbon budget. We will look back on this in history as the moment of reckoning with overproduction that is locking in further emissions and holding us back from bending the curve.”

The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty initiative highlighted that the world is on track to produce “more than double the fossil fuels than would be in line with limiting warming to less than 1.5ºC.” In lieu of this, “significant momentum” has built behind the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty as an international mechanism that could complement the Paris Agreement by managing “a global just transition away from coal, oil and gas.”

Harjeet Singh, Political Lead, Climate Action Network International, stated: “Big ocean states have provided so much leadership to international policy-making. Big ocean states pushed for the 1.5ºC target, they’ve pushed for loss and damage, and now they’re pushing for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. This is the next necessary step in international climate policy for climate justice.

Tuvalu’s support for the proposed Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty comes after this proposal was endorsed by the European Parliament, the Vatican and the World Health Organisation in recent months. Tuvalu’s call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty during the COP27 is seen as “a next step towards building formal diplomatic support for the proposal,” as similar moments were pivotal in the legal pathway towards treaties to manage the threats of nuclear weapons, ozone-depleting chemicals and landmines.

This international framework would complement the Paris Agreement by regulating fossil fuel production with the aim of stopping the expansion of any new coal, oil and gas; winding down existing fossil fuel production in line with 1.5ºC; and supporting and financing a global transition to renewable energy “where no worker, community or country is left behind.”