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Fiji latest country to sign up to Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty

16 June 2023

Nathalia Clark

The Revd James Bhagwan, speaking in Bonn on Tuesday

The Revd James Bhagwan, speaking in Bonn on Tuesday

THE general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, the Revd James Shri Bhagwan, has welcomed the announcement by Fiji that it has signed the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty — the latest country to do so.

The treaty is modelled on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and seeks the managed phase-out of all fossil fuels.

The tropical cyclones experienced by Fiji are expected to become significantly more intense and destructive. Collectively, all 14 Pacific island nations contribute only 0.23 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, while being vulnerable to their effects.

Mr Bhagwan was speaking at the international climate talks in Bonn, this week. He said: “For the Pacific household of God — as we refer to the faith community in the Pacific — without a just transition from all fossil fuels, climate finance offered by polluting countries is akin to, as we put it in Christian terms, receiving 30 pieces of silver for the betrayal of Pacific islanders who seek first and foremost an urgent phaseout of fossil fuels.”

Earlier this month, the secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, the Rt Revd Anthony Poggo, signed the treaty on behalf of the Anglican Consultative Council (News, 9 June). The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty proposal has now been backed by the World Health Organisation, the European Parliament, and 85 cities and subnational governments, as well as a global network of more than 2000 civil society organisations.

Bishop Poggo said: “Throughout the world, inspired by stories of Anglicans living in the most vulnerable states, Anglicans are active in direct action to protect the environment and also in lobbying governments and intergovernmental bodies. In doing so, we are protecting the earth that the Lord has made.”

The climate talks in Germany were due to conclude yesterday, as nations lay the groundwork for the outcomes at the COP28 summit in Dubai in December. Among the main issues being discussed is a new, globally agreed plan to treble the amount of installed renewable energy by 2030, and also a declaration to begin a managed transition to phase out all fossil fuels.

The latter is expected to receive opposition from the COP28 President, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, a member of the host government in the United Arab Emirates, who is the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

At a side event in Bonn, however, Dr Al Jaber admitted that a phase-down of fossil fuels was “inevitable”. He said that COP28 would seek “a transition that promotes policies and investments that scale up renewable energy, while working towards an energy system that is free of unabated fossil fuels. The phase-down of fossil fuels is inevitable. The speed at which this happens depends on how quickly we can phase-up zero carbon alternatives, while ensuring energy security, accessibility, and affordability.”

Other issues discussed by delegates included the formation of the Loss and Damage Fund, agreed in principle at COP27 last year, in Egypt. Representatives from 24 countries were working together over the next year to decide what form the fund should take, which countries should contribute, and where and how the money should be distributed, the UN Environment Programme website reported last November.

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