London has become the biggest city so far to endorse the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty—a signal that experts say must be matched by action in the United Kingdom capital, where the London Stock Exchange (LSE) holds gigatonnes of embedded carbon emissions in listed companies.
“When it comes to tackling air pollution and the climate emergency, cities like London have a responsibility to act,” Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a June 28 announcement. “We have to be the doers and not the delayers. We must safeguard our future.”
Khan called on cities around the world to “follow London’s lead” and commit to phasing out the use of fossil fuels as the treaty mandates. “The cost of inaction to our economies, livelihoods, environment, and the health of Londoners is far greater than the cost of transitioning to net-zero,” he said. “We simply don’t have time to waste.”
Carbon Tracker responded that more needs to be done by the city where the LSE holds 47 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions embedded in listed companies, That’s “30 times more than those of the UK’s own fossil fuel reserves, and 10 times more than the UK’s 15-year carbon budget,” the London-based think tank said. “We can’t claim London is on a pathway to net-zero whilst we continue to be one of the leading fossil fuel financial centres of the world,” wrote Carbon Tracker founder Mark Campanale.
Earlier this week, Carbon Brief released its latest analysis of embedded emissions in different stock markets. It showed that, though the LSE in 2021 became the first stock exchange to commit to net-zero, the pledge only covers the LSE Group itself and not the exchange as a whole, “which continues to list fossil fuel companies whose activities are at odds with global climate goals and the UK’s climate commitments.”
Still, the think tank welcomed London’s signing of the treaty as a “major milestone,” and now a total of 54 municipal and sub-national governments officially support the phasing out of fossil fuels, including seven other cities in the UK. The announcement comes while energy prices in London—and the rest of the country—are soaring, and expected to rise by another 30 to 40% by next winter.
“By joining other municipalities in endorsing the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and committing to a just phaseout of fossil fuels, London is demonstrating the kind of leadership we desperately need from our government,” said Tessa Khan, founder and director of Uplift.
“The Treaty recognizes that fossil fuels are not a safe or accessible kind of energy, which is what people across the UK who cannot afford their energy bills have already learned first-hand,” Khan added. Yet the UK is still giving “massive subsidies to oil and gas companies, including as part of the so-called windfall tax.”