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Towards a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty

21 Noviembre - 2023
artículo tratado combustibles

Marcos Eguiguren. Associate Provost UPF-BSM and director of the Sustainable Finance Chair in collaboration with Triodos Bank


The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is a pioneering global initiative to enable the world to meet the objectives of the Paris Accords and provide the necessary frameworks to do so, by fostering international cooperation and accelerating the transition to green energy, with the aim of halting the expansion of coal, oil and gas, while also gradually eliminating the existing output. The initiative is committed to achieving this goal fast and fairly, ensuring that no person, community or country gets left behind and in line with what the science shows is required to tackle the climate crisis.

The initiative, of which you can find a detailed overview on its website, originated from the fact that the Paris Accords do not explicitly mention fossil fuels, or that neither do the key results of COP27 refer specifically to oil and gas. With the support of numerous scientists, transnational organizations, congresspeople and other elected politicians in many states, particularly in emerging countries, many cities and some national and subnational governments, the organization behind the initiative berate the fact that, despite a succession of COPs and commitments and declarations of all kinds from governments, the production capacity of fossil fuels continues to grow as though their proliferation had absolutely nothing to do with climate change. 

Just a few days ago, in Spain, the ethical financial institution Triodos Bank, with the support of a group of companies and opinion leaders, sent a letter to the Minister for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, requesting that Spain takes a stand in favor of a treaty of this kind at the upcoming COP28 and gathers support from other governments in pursuit of this goal. Ultimately, this should not come as any surprise. In October 2022, in its formal resolution in relation to COP27, the European Parliament called for nations to reach an agreement on the future of fossil fuels. We are essentially talking about making what the EU Parliament has long advocated a reality.

"It is not longer enough to set climate commitments that very few states fulfill. We need to reach a minimum agreement about how we are going to achieve the necessary solution."

While there may be other additional factors that cause or accelerate climate change, there is a general scientific consensus that the use of fossil fuels and consequent emission of greenhouse gases is one of the fundamental causes of the climate emergency that the planet is facing. Neither is there any doubt that humankind will still depend on the energy produced from fossil fuels for a long time to come, albeit at a necessarily decreasing rate, in order to maintain its level of development. For these two reasons, a treaty of these characteristics and scope, without going into details, may prove useful.

A treaty that generates an obligation for all the nations on the planet, that defines decarbonization better as a process, without penalizing some countries to the detriment of others, that also recognizes the fact that, for many years to come, new investments will still be needed in relation to fossil fuels, although the lion’s share must go to new energy sources and technologies that boost energy saving. If there is a planet-wide problem, let’s all recognize it and agree the minimum foundations of how we are going to tackle it. It is not longer enough to set climate commitments that very few states fulfill. We need to reach a minimum agreement about how we are going to achieve the necessary solution.

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