Countries that want to show climate leadership must embrace a managed decline in fossil fuel production, according to the more than 220 organizations from 55 countries that have signed on to the Lofoten Declaration.
“The Lofoten Declaration affirms that it is the urgent responsibility and moral obligation of wealthy fossil fuel producers to lead in putting an end to fossil fuel development and to manage the decline of existing production,” the statement reads.
“A global transition to a low-carbon future is already well under way,” it adds. “Continued expansion of oil, coal, and gas is only serving to hinder the inevitable transition while at the same time exacerbating conflicts, fueling corruption, threatening biodiversity, clean water and air, and infringing on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and vulnerable communities.”
The declaration “is named after the Lofoten Islands of Norway, a region where the oil industry has been lobbying to drill for decades, but has thus far been blocked by a growing movement to protect the region and the climate,” explains Oil Change International Senior Campaigner Hannah McKinnon. She says it’s time for governments to focus on the supply side of the fossil fuel economy, rather than limiting their focus to measures like transportation electrification, better building codes, and carbon pricing that incrementally reduce demand.
“While these are important efforts, keeping emissions within climate limits will be extremely hard unless we also tackle the industry behind them,” she writes. “But politicians by and large either don’t get it, or are choosing to ignore it.” That results in “a dangerous imbalance” that allows fossil producers like Canada, Norway, and the UK “to insist they are showing climate leadership all the while they are continuing to explore, expand, and exploit massive fossil fuel reserves, with no meaningful plan for how they are going to stop in line with safe climate limits.”
Signatories recognize “that a full transition away from fossil fuels will take decades,” the declaration states. But “assertions that new fossil fuels are needed for this transformation are not only inaccurate; they also undermine the speed and penetration of clean energy.”
That matters because “we are in a deep hole with climate. We must begin by not digging ourselves any deeper.”