California endorses the Fossil Fuel Treaty
September 1, 2023
SEPTEMBER 1, 2023 – In a historic move, the resolution calling on the State of California to endorse the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty passed today the final vote in the State Assembly, making California the largest global economy to support the proposal. Facing big opposition from oil & gas lobbyists and 40 industry groups, who joined forces in an attempt to block it, the proposal was backed by a majority vote of 43-16.
The SJR 2 resolution was introduced by California Senate Majority Whip Senator Lena A. Gonzalez, and co-sponsored by Indigenous Environmental Network, Stand.earth, and SAFE Cities. The resolution calls on President Biden to support Pacific nations moving ahead with seeking a negotiating mandate for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Solidifying its commitment to combating the ongoing climate crisis, the State of California now joins over 100 other governments from around the world in a global effort to make the Fossil Fuel Treaty proposal a reality. From the bloc of six Pacific Island Nations – Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Tonga, Fiji, Niue and the Solomon Islands – to the European Parliament and the Hawai’i State Legislature.
The Fossil Fuel Treaty proposal is gaining significant momentum across the world and across sectors of society, being supported by the World Health Organization, near 100 cities, 2,500+ civil society organizations, over half a million individuals, including Nobel Laureates, 3,000 leading academics, scientists, hundreds of Indigenous, health, youth and faith groups, celebrities and influencers who understand the imperative of this crucial crusade.
California Senate Majority Whip Senator Lena A Gonzalez (D – Long Beach), said: “It is essential that we commit once and for all to ending our reliance on fossil fuels. People around the world, especially low-income people of color, are suffering the adverse health impacts of fossil fuel pollution, from asthma to cancer. The recent devastating fires and hurricanes emphasize the urgency of taking action, to prevent further extreme weather changes. The science has been clear for decades—fossil fuels are responsible for the climate crisis. We can prevent further harm to our communities, and that is why I am proud that California has now been added to the growing list of governments endorsing the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is time for our nation to be a part of the solution, to forge strong unity and commitment to phasing out the use of fossil fuels.”
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, said: “This decision of the State of California is a commitment to take down the single biggest contributor to the climate crisis: the fossil fuel industry. California joins the millions of voices across Turtle Island and Mother Earth calling on Biden to follow in the footsteps of our Pacific Island brothers and sisters from the small Island states and negotiate a mandate for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. As the state with the highest population of Indigenous Peoples in the country, it is important to pass legislation that would put a halt to the devastation and destruction of the compounding effects of climate change caused by fossil fuels.”
The resolution supports a global plan to create the missing framework for managing fossil fuel production, first by stopping expansion and then carefully phasing out coal, oil, and gas in a way that is fair and fast. It also looks to protect the most impacted workers and local government services through this transition to abundant and clean renewable energy.
As the world grapples with the catastrophic impacts of climate change, and Californians witness the increasing frequency of devastating wildfires, severe droughts, and rising sea levels, it is evident that bold and immediate action is needed. The resolution has the potential to inject a huge wave of momentum into the global campaign for a Fossil Fuel Treaty and build significant pressure on President Biden who earlier this year approved the controversial Willow Project in Alaska.
Alex Rafalowicz, Executive Director of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, said “As the largest economy to embrace the Fossil Fuel Treaty, California sets a powerful example to the international community, underscoring the urgency of fast-tracking an equitable transition away from oil, gas and coal. This move will catalyze a ripple effect that reaches far beyond state borders. By aligning its immense economic and cultural influence with the Fossil Fuel Treaty proposal, California can accelerate its own energy transition, inspiring global cooperation to safeguard our planet and communities. We hope this move locks in real action on ending the era of fossil fuels in California, and spurs other regions, states, and countries to join forces in tackling the root cause of the climate crisis: the production of coal, oil and gas.”
Nathan Taft, Senior Digital Campaigner for SAFE Cities with Stand.earth and California resident, said: “Los Angeles was one of the first cities in the world to endorse the Fossil Fuel Treaty, and it’s great to see California following its lead by becoming one of the first subnational governments joining this movement to address the climate crisis with the scale and urgency required. At the same time, California must follow this historic resolution with concrete policies that protect its residents and the climate from fossil fuels. At a bare minimum, California should stop issuing new fossil fuel permits, divest its massive pensions from fossil fuels, and implement all-electric building codes.”
The resolution must also be complemented by urgent policy reforms in California to stop all new fossil fuel permits, drop existing oil drilling, and roll out health and safety buffers as clearly stated by the powerful Last Chance Alliance, a coalition of over 900 organizations active in California.
Cesar Aguirre, Oil & Gas Director, Central California Environmental Justice Network, said: “California calling for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty only holds weight if we see meaningful protections come from it. Of the 97 governments that signed on, only in California did the oil industry mobilize paid lobbyists to fight the endorsement. If we want to be seen as a state that stands up to fossil fuels, setbacks and no new neighborhood drilling should be the first priority.”
Fossil fuels contribute to air pollution, respiratory illnesses, and a host of other health problems. By taking decisive action to phase out coal, oil, and gas, California can improve air quality, protect vulnerable communities, and enhance the well-being of its population. Embracing the call for a Fossil Fuel Treaty would send a clear message that California recognizes the incompatibility of fossil fuel dependency with the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Fossil Fuel Treaty proposal has gained significant momentum in recent months, with a bloc of Pacific nation states – Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Tonga, Fiji, Niue and the Solomon Islands – formally and publicly expressing their intention to seek a negotiating mandate for a new treaty. They are now pushing to build an alliance of national and subnational governments globally who can join them in developing the initiative.
About the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative
The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative is spurring international cooperation to end new development of fossil fuels, phase out existing production within the agreed climate limit of 1.5°C and develop plans to support workers, communities and countries dependent on fossil fuels to create secure and healthy livelihoods.
For more information on the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, visit its website.
Communications Director, Stand.earth (USA)
Communications Director, Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty (Brazil)
email@example.com, +55 61 99137-1229
Public Relations and Web Manager, Indigenous Environmental Network
Spokespersons available for interview:
- Jordan Harmon, Policy Analyst at Indigenous Environmental Network
- Thomas Joseph, Carbon Policy Educator, Indigenous Environmental Network
- Alex Rafalowicz, Executive Director at the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative
- Nathan Taft, Senior Digital Campaigner at Stand.earth, California resident.