Following Vanuatu’s call for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty at the United Nations General Assembly this Fall, Tuvalu Prime Minister Kausea Natano used his speech at COP27 this week to join the chorus of nations, cities, Nobel laureates, and others demanding coal, oil and gas be phased out.

“We all know that the leading cause of the climate crisis is fossil fuels,” Natano said. “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.”

Vulnerable Pacific Island states have long been at the forefront of climate leadership. Eight years ago, 14 Pacific Island nations met in the Solomon Islands to consider a treaty that would ban new fossil fuel development for signatories and commit them to clean energy targets. At the UN climate conference in 2017, Fiji underscored the importance of managing the phaseout of fossil fuels, and at COP26 in Glasgow last year, Tuvalu was at the forefront of pushing for reparations for damage caused by climate change.

“We are living climate change in our daily lives. We have our land fast disappearing, and our islands are sinking,” said Tuvalu Minister for Finance Seve Paeniu, last year in Glasgow.

As coal, oil and gas are burned, releasing planet warming greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, climate impacts worsen. Sea level rise is threatening Pacific Island states like Tuvalu that now have to find the cash for major land reclamation projects.

Tiny island nation joins the call to end use of fossil fuels. #Tuvalu #COP27

With loss and damage financing on the COP27 agenda for the first time, Tuvalu’s land loss is a clear example of the type of climate change related damage countries will increasingly face until global emissions are driven to zero.

“Big ocean states pushed for the 1.5C target, they’ve pushed for loss and damage, and now they’re pushing for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty,” said Climate Action Network International political lead Harjeet Singh in a statement. “This is the next necessary step in international climate policy for climate justice.”

Inspired by nuclear weapon non-proliferation agreements, the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative was launched two years ago with support from civil society organizations. The initiative, chaired by prominent Canadian climate advocate Tzeporah Berman, has grown quickly, and today is backed by more than 1,800 organizations; cities like Toronto, London and Los Angeles; thousands of scientists; academics and politicians, as well as over 100 Nobel laureates.

“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,” Berman said in a statement. “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”

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