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European Parliament calls for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty

EU flags.

The European Parliament has published a formal resolution calling on Member States to phase out oil, gas and coal production. All 27 Member States voted in favour of the resolution.

  • The resolution, agreed ahead of COP27, is focused on agreement of a phase out of new investment in oil, gas and goal.
  • While there is a chasm between adopting a resolution and action, as evinced by the G20’s failure to cut fossil fuel subsidies, it is a clear indicator of EU concern about reliance on Russian energy as well as climate concern.
  • As COP27 gets going, it will be interesting to see if and how talk is turned into action.

The European Parliament resolution on the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt (COP27)  calls for critical action on climate change in the current decades and “stresses the importance of phasing out fossil fuels as soon as possible.”

The European Parliament’s resolution calls for Member States to drop their plans for new investment in expanding oil, gas and coal. Instead it calls on them to support a global just transition to clean energy with the “international assistance” required to respond to the energy and climate crises hitting Global South countries most severely in a sustainable and equitable way.

Fossil fuels play a critical role in emissions reduction and remain heavily subsidised

Fossil fuel emissions are responsible for over 80% of global emissions and the EU’s current fossil fuel subsidy regime has been funding the sector to the tune of €55-58 billion per year, every year since 2008, or €770-812 billion. The European Parliament resolution says that in light of the scientific evidence of climate change, the need to divert the climate and biodiversity crisis, the importance of industrial competitiveness, energy dependency on Russia (and much more) the EU must take action.

In the resolution it says: “The Parliament called on calls on the Commission and all Member States to implement concrete policies, timelines and measures to phase out all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies as soon as possible, and by 2025 at the very latest; encourages other Parties to undertake similar measures and to work on developing a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.”

It’s important to note that while the resolution responds to scientific warnings by urging governments to “phase-out fossil fuels as soon as possible”, it also includes noteworthy demands for climate justice and a just transition.

It calls on European countries to “stand ready to contribute to closing the gap necessary to limit global warming to 1.5° C, in a just, socially balanced, fair and cost-effective way, while taking into account aspects of global fairness and equity and the EU’s historical and current responsibility for the emissions causing the climate crisis.”

It’s a slow journey to commitment but momentum is growing

The resolution was proposed in October 2022, a year after a resolution on a fossil-fuel non proliferation treaty was overturned. The latest resolution was approved on 20 October 2022.

It reinforces the growing diplomatic support for a new international mechanism, less than a month after the World Health Organisation urged governments to endorse a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Vanuatu became the first nation-state to call for Treaty at the UN General Assembly, a pivotal step for the ideal which was immediately followed by public displays of support from the Government of New Zealand and the President of Timor-Leste.

The successful amendment to include a call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty was proposed by members of the Parliamentarians Call for a Fossil Fuel Free Future, a global network of close to 500 legislators from every continent who have called for “new international commitments and treaties, complementing the Paris Agreement, to address the urgency of a swift and just transition away from fossil fuel energy”.

The campaign for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty was inspired by international frameworks that have addressed the threats of nuclear weapons, landmines, tobacco and other dangerous substances.

In the past year, the initiative has received support from 101 Nobel laureates, 3,000 academics, the WHO and hundreds of health professionals, 460+ parliamentarians from 60+ countries, 69 cities around the world, hundreds of youth activists, a growing group of religious institutions including the Vatican, and more than 1,700 civil society organisations.

Marie Toussaint, French Member of the European Parliament said: “It was absolutely crucial, ahead of the COP27, to remind European leaders that they cannot use the ongoing energy crisis as an excuse to deepen our dependency on fossil fuels. The call made today by the European Parliament to adopt a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and phase out all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 must now be heard by the European Commission and Member States.

“The EU must also acknowledge its climate debt, and the fact it has been a major polluter, responsible for greenhouse gas emissions over centuries. We have to find ways, within this non proliferation treaty, to ensure justice at global level for those who won’t earn the money they could through fossil fuel extraction.”

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