Pacific Islands Nations Consider 'Pioneering' Treaty to Ban Fossil Fuels

An aerial view of Marovo Lagoon in the Solomon Islands shows the effects of deforestation and climate change. (Photo: United Nations Photo/flickr/cc)

Pacific Islands Nations Consider 'Pioneering' Treaty to Ban Fossil Fuels

'This is an avenue where the Pacific could again show or build on the moral and political tackle climate change'

Pacific Island nations are reportedly considering the world's first treaty to ban fossil fuels, which would require signatories to work toward renewable energy targets and prohibit any expansion of fossil fuel mines.

The leaders of 14 nations on the front lines of climate change are considering the treaty after an annual summit in the Solomon Islands known as the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF). The treaty would establish a "Pacific framework for renewable energy" and require "universal access" to clean energy by 2030. It would also bind leaders not to approve any new coal or other fossil fuel mines nor provide subsidies for extraction or consumption.

"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," PIDF climate change adviser Mahendra Kumar told the Guardian on Thursday.

The Guardian explains:

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.

[....] But the treaty being considered by the newer group embraces the aspirational 1.5C 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.

Kumar said the treaty could be adopted in 2018, though it was unlikely to happen earlier. The model treaty was crafted by the Pacific Island Climate Action Network (PICAN). According to the Guardian, the coalition of nongovernmental organizations wrote in a report that "The rationale is that potential Parties to the Treaty already possess the political courage and commitment needed to adopt a flagship legal instrument that is sufficiently ambitious to prevent catastrophic changes in the global climate system."

As Common Dreams reported in May, five Pacific Islands that make up part of the Solomon Islands' archipelago have already been lost to rising seas and coastal erosion associated with climate change. Residents have also been forced to relocate due to encroaching waters.

In 2015, the Alliance of Small Island States, a coalition of the most vulnerable Pacific Islands nations, demanded a moratorium on new coal mines.

PICAN's report continues: "As there is currently no treaty that bans or phases out fossil fuels, the Treaty would set a pioneering example to the rest of the world."

Join the Movement: Become Part of the Solution Today

We're optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter counts.

Your contribution supports this new media model—free, independent, and dedicated to uncovering the truth. Stand with us in the fight for social justice, human rights, and equality. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.