News ID: 154995
Published: 1026 GMT July 15, 2016

First treaty to ban fossil fuels under scrutiny

First treaty to ban fossil fuels under scrutiny

The world’s first international treaty that bans or phases out fossil fuels is being considered by leaders of developing Pacific islands nations after a summit held in the Solomon Islands recently.

The leaders of 14 countries agreed to consider a proposed Pacific climate treaty, which would bind signatories to targets for renewable energy and ban new or the expansion of coalmines, at the annual leaders’ summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF).

Mahendra Kumar, climate change advisor to PIDF, told the Guardian the treaty proposal was received very positively by the national leaders. “They seemed convinced that this is an avenue where the Pacific could again show or build on the moral and political leadership that they’ve shown earlier in their efforts to tackle climate change,” he said.

The PIDF was formed in 2013, spearheaded by Fiji, and excludes Australia and New Zealand, which are members of the older Pacific Islands Forum. There were claims at the time that Australia and New Zealand attempted to sabotage the group’s first meeting.

Then in 2015 Australia and New Zealand foiled an attempt by the developing countries in the older forum to take a 1.5°C target to last year’s Paris climate change conference.

But the treaty being considered by the newer group embraces the aspirational 1.5°C target set at Paris, setting mitigation targets that are in line with it, as well as establishing adaptation mechanisms to cope with the effects of that warming.

Written by a coalition of non-governmental organizations called the Pacific Island Climate Action Network (PICAN), the model treaty will be the subject of consultations, which will result in a report to the summit next year.

Kumar said it is unlikely to be adopted within one year, but it was possible it could be adopted the following year, in 2018.

Joeteshna Gurdayal Zenos, acting head of Pacific Net, which is Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s climate justice project, said: “Pacific island leaders are among the most proactive in the world on global warming because their countries are bearing the brunt of climate changes.

“Their willingness to consider a Pacific climate treaty shows much-needed leadership on the world’s most pressing environmental challenge,” she said.

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