In an historic appeal that further affirms the South Pacific island country as a global climate leader, Vanuatu has thrown its support behind the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“Every day we are experiencing more debilitating consequences of the climate crisis,” Vanuatu President Nikenike Vurobaravu said last week from the floor of the UN General Assembly in New York. “Fundamental human rights are being violated, and we are measuring climate change not in degrees of Celsius or tonnes of carbon, but in human lives.”
With fossil fuel production and use accounting for 86% of the CO2 emissions that cause climate change, “this emergency is of our own making,” Vurobaravu added. “Our youth are terrified of the future world we are handing to them through expanding fossil fuel dependency, compromising intergenerational trust and equity.”
Vanuatu is the first nation-state to formally push for an international legal mechanism to end fossil fuels. In what the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty (FFNPT) campaign described as an “historic call”, Vurobaravu urged his fellow national leaders to formally support the development of a treaty to “phase down coal, oil and gas production in line with 1.5ºC, and enable a global just transition for every worker, community, and nation with fossil fuel dependence.”
More than 65 subnational governments—including the Hawai’i State Legislature—and cities around the world like Toronto, Vancouver, Barcelona, London, Kolkata, and Paris, have already endorsed the call for such a treaty, as have the Vatican and the World Health Organization.
The FFNPT campaign called the island nation’s announcement “a pivotal step towards building formal diplomatic support for the proposal,” a global initiative modelled on past campaigns to manage the threat of landmines and nuclear weapons.
Vanuatu’s call for international legal action to ban any further expansion of fossil fuels comes a few weeks after it announced a US$1.2-billion commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030. The country is also fighting hard for the creation of a formal international body to deliver loss-and-damage financing, and is leading a campaign to have the International Court of Justice issue an advisory opinion on climate justice and human rights.