Tuvalu first to call for fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty at Cop27

Pacific islands nation, which is acutely vulnerable to sea level rises, joins nearby Vanuatu in seeking phase-out of coal, oil and gas

Tuvalu has become the first country to use United Nations climate talks to demand an international fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, which would phase out the use of coal, oil and gas.

The small Pacific islands nation, which is acutely vulnerable to sea level rises caused by global heating, becomes the second country to call for an agreement to end the era of burning fossil fuels, which is the primary cause of the rapidly escalating climate crisis, fellow Pacific nation Vanuatu being the first.

Tuvalu made the call on Tuesday at the Cop27 climate talks in Egypt. Climate activists have welcomed the move but condemned large polluters, such as the US and China, for ensuring that fossil fuels have largely been shielded by previous iterations of the climate talks. Last year, at Cop26 in Scotland, countries vowed for the first time to “phase down” the use of coal, although the use of gas and oil was not mentioned.

Kausea Natano, the prime minister of Tuvalu, said that “the warming seas are starting to swallow our lands, inch by inch. But the world’s addiction to oil, gas and coal can’t sink our dreams under the waves.

“We, therefore, unite with a hundred Nobel peace prize laureates and thousands of scientists worldwide and urge world leaders to join the fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty to manage a just transition away from fossil fuels.”

“Countries like Tuvalu are the ones on the frontlines, they know they can’t just give in to the vested interests of the fossil fuel companies,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International. “We know who the victims of the climate crisis are and we know who the perpetrators are but we don’t ever discuss fossil fuels, the elephant in the room.”

Singh said a fossil fuel treaty that would curb new exploitation of reserves and switch in a just way to renewables has so far been overlooked “by design” because of the reliance of several powerful countries on digging up and burning fossil fuels.

The Cop27 agenda includes discussion of future remedial payments made by wealthy countries to developing countries that are suffering the brunt of extreme weather in the form of floods, wildfires, droughts and other climate impacts. But the idea of explicitly agreeing to wind down fossil fuel use is not a priority for governments in Sharm el-Sheikh, despite the International Energy Agency warning that there can be no new coal, oil or gas infrastructure built if the world is to avoid disastrous global heating.

While no major emitter is backing the call for a new treaty, the concept has been backed by the Vatican, the World Health Organization and a selection of city mayors, including Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London. Activists hope the support by Pacific nations will help create a similar sort of momentum to that which moved ideas such as keeping the global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial times from a fringe idea to a widely adopted goal.


Oliver Milman

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Gas producers using Cop27 to rebrand gas as transitional fuel, experts warn
Companies and financial backers are laying the groundwork for a shift in attitudes towards gas

Ruth Michaelson

11, Nov, 2022 @7:00 AM

Article image
Health groups call for global fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty
WHO and almost 200 other health associations urge governments around world to halt ‘environmental vandalism’

Arthur Neslen

14, Sep, 2022 @5:00 AM

Article image
Russian oligarchs and companies under sanctions are among lobbyists at Cop27
The heavy presence of lobbyists from Moscow suggests Russia is using the climate talks to drum up business

Ruth Michaelson and Patrick Greenfield

12, Nov, 2022 @1:10 PM

Article image
As Pacific islanders, we are leading the way to end the world’s addiction to fossil fuels | Ralph Regenvanu Seve Paeniu
Today’s IPCC report has given a ‘final warning’ to avert global catastrophe. We call on all world leaders to urgently transition to renewables, write politicians Ralph Regenvanu and Seve Paeniu

Ralph Regenvanu and Seve Paeniu

20, Mar, 2023 @4:49 PM

Article image
What is the fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty?
Initiative aims to stop expansion of fossil fuel exploitation, but who supports it and how would it work?

Damian Carrington

11, Nov, 2022 @2:12 PM

Article image
Global health at mercy of fossil fuel addiction, warn scientists
Reliance on oil and gas worsening climate impacts and compounding food, energy and cost of living crises

Damian Carrington Environment editor

25, Oct, 2022 @10:30 PM

Article image
World close to ‘irreversible’ climate breakdown, warn major studies
Key UN reports published in last two days warn urgent and collective action needed – as oil firms report astronomical profits

Damian Carrington Environment editor

27, Oct, 2022 @5:37 PM

Article image
Leak reveals ‘touchy’ issues for UAE’s presidency of UN climate summit
Exclusive: Long list of ‘sensitive’ topics for petrostate include oil and gas production, emissions and Yemen war crimes

Damian Carrington Environment editor

01, Aug, 2023 @9:20 AM

Article image
Loss of fossil fuel assets would not impoverish general public, study finds
Research allays fears that rapid scaling back of production would hit people’s savings and pensions hard

Matthew Taylor Environment correspondent

22, Jun, 2023 @3:00 PM

Article image
Vanuatu makes bold call for global treaty to phase out fossil fuels
President of Pacific island nation urges countries to join bid for nonproliferation treaty at UN general assembly

Miranda Bryant and Australian Associated Press

24, Sep, 2022 @5:03 PM