Fossil fuels are fuelling the climate emergency, increasing the likelihood of natural
disasters, multiplying injustice, and creating political instability. However, they are
often left out of ‘climate action plans’, leading to a delay in their phase-out while
further destruction is being caused.
Burning of coal, oil and gas accounts for nearly 80% of carbon dioxide emissions since the
industrial revolution (1). Yet, they are often dismissed in government negotiations. Emissions from Fossil Fuels are killing more people than COVID-19, but governments seem to lackurgency in taking action against them (2).
The phrase ‚fossil fuels‘ does not appear anywhere in the Paris Agreement, and neither do
‚coal‘, ‚oil‘ or ‚gas‘. Since then, it has become a constant struggle weather climate-pressured policy makers can resist the fossil fuel lobby and weather they can start to target global
emissions by their roots (3). So, after years of explaining climate change and continuing
fossil investments and infrastructure, we now need to phase out fossil fuels (4).
As an initiative to target the cause of our emissions, the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty
(FFN-PT) has been set up to stop fossil fuel exploration and expansion. Compared to other
attempts to work against fossil fuel exploration, it directly focuses on the supply side, through regulations which enables the potential do disarm the fossil industry (5). Furthermore it has the potential to be a way out of the addiction of governments giving into fossil fuel companies time and time again as it directly asks governments to phase out fossil fuels.
The treaty has been supported by the World Health Organisation, 101 Nobel Laureauts and
more than 500 thousand individuals. It has also been endorsed by cities such as Vancover,
Barcelona and Los Angeles, by the European Parliament and by the small island states Vanuatu and Tuvalu, which are being flooded from sea level rise (6).
The FFN-PT has three main aims. Firstly it asks for prevention to the proliferation which
means an end to new exploration and production of coal, oil and gas. Secondly it aims for a
fair phase-out which stands for a tracking and regulation of a supply. Thirdly it aims for a
clear and a just transition for workers, communities and countries (7).
The treaty could be a signpost to phasing out fossil fuels. Previous negotiations have shown
that we will not get off Fossil Fuels by hoping that incentives will stop new fossil fuel
infrastructure from being built. Instead, we need to understand where the emissions are
located, install legally binding pathways and ending all existing exploitation.
Ireland could be a leader in this as it already has installed legislation to prevent new licenses for oil and gas exploration in Irish waters, making it one of only six countries in the world with a legislative ban on new fossil fuel exploration. Furthermore, Ireland is a founding member of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance and it has played a strong role in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, earning a reputation as ‚first-mover‘ in phasing out fossil fuel exploration (8).
What can I do?
A first step to supporting this transition is to sign the Treaty as an individual or an
organisation. If you want to get engaged further, you can lobby your local, regional or
national government to support the treaty. There are also Irish environmental Groups that
actively lobby against new Fossil Fuels, such as Not Here Not Anywhere, Friends of the
Earth, Extinction Rebellion and Stop Climate Chaos.
1. See https://www.rapidtransition.org/news-and-campaigns/we-need-a-fossil-fuel-treaty/
2. See https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/feb/28/fossil-fuels-kill-more-people-than-covid-why-are-we-so-blind-to-the-harms-of-oil-and-gas
3. See https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jan/16/fossil-fuel-destroyed-cops-un-compromised-cop28
4. See https://climatenetwork.org/2023/03/10/press-release-ipcc-synthesis-report-march-2023/
5. See https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/science.aax5011
6. FFN-PT Research Hub: https://fossilfueltreaty.org/endorsements/#governments
7. See https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5dd3cc5b7fd99372fbb04561/t/6178bd5389fa4
8. FFN-PT in Ireland: