Fossil fuel production cannot expand as part of a fair energy transition, urges new international coalition

September 25, 2020

An equitable energy transition can be fast-tracked with the support of the Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty

NEW YORK — A coalition of policy advisors, academics and civil society from around the world came together today to urge for more ambitious international cooperation in order to protect the climate and vulnerable people. 

Leaders convened for a virtual panel event during Climate Week NYC hosted by the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, where they addressed ways in which a transition away from fossil fuels can be accelerated with care and sensitivity, particularly in a post-COVID world.

While citizens, companies and countries commit to reducing emissions, the main cause of the climate crisis – the fossil fuel industry – continues to expand. Coal, oil and gas are responsible for almost 80 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions since the industrial revolution.

“It is high time that the fossil fuel industry take accountability for their substantial role in environmental injustices. Through the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, civil society in the Global South and around the globe is calling for the future of our world to take precedence over industry interests. As the climate emergency looms closer and closer, an equitable move away from fossil fuel production that leaves no worker, community or nation behind is imperative and can be accelerated through international cooperation via a treaty,” said Lidy Nacpil, Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development.

Such a complex transition requires a global framework – a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty – in order to ensure an equitable global transition away from fossil fuels towards clean and low-carbon communities. This includes: 

  • Preventing the proliferation of coal, oil and gas by ending all new exploration and production; 
  • Phasing-out existing stockpiles and production of fossil fuels in line with the 1.5C global climate goal; and
  • Fast-tracking real solutions and a just transition for every worker, community and country.

“Over the next four years, the fossil fuel industry plans to invest trillions to expand oil, gas and coal production. Yet current production could push us well past global temperature limits in as little as 10 years, the time to take action is now. With this Treaty, a coalition of supporters around the world are calling for global action to focus on the fossil fuel production gap challenge and fast track solutions. Markets alone can not solve this challenge, we must hold governments to account for rising emissions and production.” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director at

If the Paris goals of keeping global temperatures from rising above 1.5°C are going to be met, we need a step-change in climate action and political will.

The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is an idea whose time has come. Hundreds of organizations, companies and individuals have endorsed the concept of a Treaty including organizations represented in today’s event as well as Powershift Africa,, Friends of the Earth International, Stand.Earth, Corporate Accountability, the UK Youth Climate Coalition and yesterday the World Future Council many others. Youth leaders around the world are starting to launch campaigns calling for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, including in New Zealand where school striker Aurelie Bray has delivered a petition to the New Zealand Parliament calling for a Treaty.  

“This is an exquisitely important idea….Our response in terms of nuclear weapons has, all things considered, been pretty remarkable. We haven’t dropped one for decades and that is because the human imagination was able to understand what those mushroom clouds above big cities looked like….Now we can see the fires, we can see the melt, we can see the heatwaves. So the time has come for us to understand that this is another example of people and our systems become simply too large for the planet we inhabit and this is a remarkably good way of organizing some of that sentiment into real action.” said Bill McKibben, Author and Founder 

“The Treaty is a big no that makes the yeses of democratically developed Just Transitions, Green New Deals that recognize the intersection of so many different injustices and climate change as a threat multiplier possible and meaningful. A no keeping the problem from getting so bad that there is no yes that is really possible.” said Naomi Klein, Author, Filmmaker and Activist.

“We’ve been saying since the beginning ‘keep it in the ground’ at every strike. The Treaty directly explains in a concrete way how it is possible to make it happen. It is filling the gap in the Paris Agreement and completely aligns with the basic demands of the youth movement to stay below the 1.5C targets, support the climate justice principle and base efforts in the best science available. We always say that your generation has been failing us regarding the climate crisis. Now we can unite knowing we need to keep it in the ground.” said Loukina Tille, youth activist. “We, as the young generation, are often told we are giving hope to other generations. But for us, it is hard to find hope anywhere because wherever we look at the problem is not being faced as it should be. This Initiative is giving me hope we can really move and bring strong and bold climate policies and tools for moving out of fossil fuels as a whole society.”

“Subnational governments have been effective at stopping infrastructure projects but largely they can get forced through by national governments. Cities are an important piece of the puzzle both on the supply and demand side but cooperation is needed. That can be generated along through efforts like the Treaty which can also help hold elected leaders accountable for phasing out fossil fuels and ensuring a just transition for everyone,”  said Gregor Roberston, Global Ambassador for the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and 39th Mayor of Vancouver. 

“The power of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is that it begins with campaigns. It has to and those campaigns are already in place. People who are fighting to stop fracking in their town, in their state are fighting to stop the proliferation of fossil fuels. People who are fighting to stop oil and gas development off their coasts or in Arctic waters or to keep it from spreading in the Amazon are fighting against the proliferation of fossil fuels By recognizing that we are fighting in this common cause. By saying my town is a fossil fuel non-proliferation zone, my state is a fossil fuel non-proliferation zone, my country is a fossil fuel non-proliferation zone – we give ourselves the opportunity to ratchet up ambition, demand greater ambition from our own leaders and for those countries that are willing to move first and early, we give them a way to signal to the markets that this is where the whole world is going, this change is inevitable and you have to respond.” said Carroll Muffett, Center for International Environmental Law.

Event speakers included:

  • Tzeporah Berman, Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative
  • Naomi Klein, Journalist/Author/Filmmaker/Activist
  • Lidy Nacpil, Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development
  • Sanjay Vashist, Climate Action Network in South Asia 
  • Gregor Robertson, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy
  • Bill McKibben, Author and Founder
  • Carroll Muffett, Center for International Environmental Law
  • Mark Campanale, Carbon Tracker
  • Carlos Larrea, Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar
  • Niclas Hällström, What Next?
  • Lili Fuhr, Heinrich Boll Foundation
  • Kathryn Harrison, University of British Columbia
  • David Tong, Oil Change International
  • Peter Newell, University of Sussex
  • Loukina Tille, Youth Activist


Media contacts: 

Ziona Eyob, Canadian Communications Manager,,, +1 604 757 7279 

Brenna Two Bears, Communications Associate, Climate Access,, +1 812 345 3139