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Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Ask Governor Brown to Take “Moral Responsibility,” Pursue Bold Action to Phase Out Fossil Fuels

In letter from Women Nobel Laureates, Governor Brown urged “begin managed and just transition off of oil and gas production”

Sacramento, CA - Declaring that California has “a moral responsibility to act” and “climate leaders can no longer explore for and exploit new fossil fuels,” a group of Nobel Peace Laureates today urged Governor Jerry Brown to freeze new fossil fuel drilling and develop a plan to transition California “away from oil and gas production.”

In a letter to the California Governor, the Laureates emphasized the fact that, despite Governor Brown’s strong language to raise the alarm on the threat of climate change, California continues to drill wells and engage in destructive fossil fuel extraction. Over the past seven years, the Brown administration has authorized 20,000 new permits for drilling, including wells in sensitive offshore sites along the California coast.

“Climate leadership is being redefined, and we strongly believe you, Governor Brown, can be among those at the vanguard,” the letter states. “We know the vast majority of fossil fuels must be kept in the ground. Climate leaders can no longer explore for and exploit new fossil fuels, and climate leaders must have a plan to phase-out production by no later than mid-century. This transition will be challenging, but by starting now, you have the opportunity to work together with workers dependent on fossil fuel production to ensure they have the agency and support to build livelihoods for themselves in a post-carbon economy.”

In their letter, the Nobel Laureates express support for Brown’s Last Chance, a campaign endorsed by over 800 health, social justice, climate, and environmental groups calling on Brown to take bold action to freeze new fossil fuel drilling and protect communities from drilling in sensitive areas before the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in September. Brown is hosting the summit in San Francisco, and it’s expected to attract thousands of people from all over the world – including many who plan to protest his oil and gas policies at the summit.

Signatories to the letter include: Mairead Maguire (Northern Ireland), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (Guatemala), Jody Williams (U.S.A), Shirin Ebadi (Iran), Leymah Gbowee (Liberia) and Tawakkol Karman (Yemen).

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Governor Brown,

Thank you for your commitment to action on climate change. As you know, the devastating impacts of global warming are already ravaging the lives and livelihoods of many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. Your home state has been the epicenter of devastating wildfires and mudslides, and you have been emphatic about the role of fossil fuels in this man-made crisis.

We especially value your aspirations for bold and unprecedented action, as you have said, “Let’s lead the whole world to realize this is not your normal political challenge. This is much bigger. This is life itself. It requires courage and imagination.”

It is in this spirit that we call on you to become the first major fossil fuel producer to begin a managed and just transition off oil and gas production, in turn protecting the climate, citizens on the frontlines of extraction, and setting a new direction for global climate action.

California is one of the world’s largest economies, it is the wealthiest major oil producing economy in the world after Norway, and it has a government and population that have been steadfast in their support for urgent and ambitious action. The state’s policies on clean energy and vehicle efficiency and electrification for example have been groundbreaking. But, this is only half of the equation.

Without commensurate action to phase-out fossil fuel production, the struggle for a safer climate future will only become more challenging. Rich oil, gas, and coal producers have a moral responsibility to act. If California, or Norway, or Canada cannot embrace an ambitious path away from fossil fuel production, how can we expect others to?

Climate leadership is being redefined, and we strongly believe you, Governor Brown, can be among those at the vanguard. We know the vast majority of fossil fuels must be kept in the ground. Climate leaders can no longer explore for and exploit new fossil fuels, and climate leaders must have a plan to phase-out production by no later than mid-century.

This transition will be challenging, but by starting now, you have the opportunity to work together with workers dependent on fossil fuel production to ensure they have the agency and support to build livelihoods for themselves in a post-carbon economy.

As Nobel Peace Laureates, we believe that climate change is among the biggest threats to a peaceful future. We celebrate the perseverance and strength of communities in California and around the world who are on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction projects and who continue to fight for their rights to a healthy environment and a safe climate. And we celebrate the women who are driving this change. For meaningful and sustainable solutions to the climate crisis, it is critical that gender equality, human rights, and the rights of indigenous people are central to all climate action.

As decision-makers, community members, and leaders, women are driving this change and it is imperative that this leadership role is embraced at all levels.

We would also like to share our support for, and draw your attention to the Lofoten Declaration, a declaration supported by voices from across the globe calling on wealthy fossil fuel producers to chart a course away from this dependency. Similar calls are echoed in a powerful letter recently sent directly to you by over 750 civil society organizations from all corners of the world.

As you prepare to host the Global Climate Action Summit in September, we look forward to your “courage and imagination” in setting new precedents for the coming critical years of climate action.

Yours sincerely,

Mairead Maguire, Northern Ireland, 1976

Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Guatemala, 1992

Jody Williams, U.S.A., 1997

Shirin Ebadi, Iran, 2003

Leymah Gbowee, Liberia, 2011

Tawakkol Karman, Yemen, 2011

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Estimado gobernador Brown:

Gracias por comprometerse a adoptar medidas para combatir el cambio climático. Como sabrá, los impactos devastadores del calentamiento global están destruyendo las vidas y el sustento de la población más pobre y más vulnerable del mundo. Su estado ha sido el epicentro de incendios forestales y corrimientos de tierra devastadores, y usted se ha mostrado categórico con respecto al papel que los combustibles fósiles desempeñan en esta crisis provocada por el hombre.

Valoramos especialmente su aspiración a adoptar medidas audaces y sin precedentes, como usted mismo ha dicho: “Hagamos que el mundo entero se dé cuenta de que este no es un desafío político cualquiera. Es mucho más que eso. Se trata de la vida misma. Exige valentía e imaginación”.

Es en este sentido que lo instamos a que se convierta en el primer gobernador de un estado productor de combustibles fósiles que comience una transición cuidadosa y justa para abandonar la producción de gas y petróleo a fin de proteger al clima y a los ciudadanos que son afectados por la extracción, y a que fije un nuevo rumbo para la acción climática mundial.

El estado de California es una de las mayores economías del mundo. Es la principal economía productora de petróleo más rica del mundo después de Noruega, y su gobierno y población han apoyado firmemente la adopción de medidas urgentes y ambiciosas. Las políticas del estado con respecto a la energía limpia, la eficiencia de los vehículos y la electrificación, entre otras, han sido revolucionarias. Sin embargo, ellas constituyen tan solo la mitad de la ecuación.

A menos que se adopten medidas adecuadas para eliminar progresivamente la producción de combustibles fósiles, la lucha por un futuro climático más seguro será cada vez más difícil. Los productores de petróleo, gas y carbón tienen la responsabilidad moral de adoptar medidas. Si California, Noruega o Canadá no apoyan un plan ambicioso para eliminar la producción de los combustibles fósiles, ¿qué podemos esperar de los demás?

Se está redefiniendo el liderazgo en materia climática y estamos convencidos de que usted, gobernador Brown, puede formar parte de los que están a la vanguardia. Sabemos que la gran mayoría de los combustibles fósiles deben permanecer en el suelo. Los líderes climáticos no deben explorar y explotar nuevos combustibles fósiles y deben tener un plan para eliminar progresivamente su producción a más tardar a mediados de este siglo.

Esta transición será difícil, pero si comienza ahora, tendrá la oportunidad de colaborar con los trabajadores que dependen de la producción de combustibles fósiles para asegurarse de que tengan autonomía para actuar y apoyo para generar su propio sustento en una economía libre de carbono.

Como ganadores del Premio Nobel de la Paz consideramos que el cambio climático es una de las mayores amenazas a un futuro pacífico. Celebramos la perseverancia y la fortaleza de las comunidades de California y el mundo entero que se ven amenazadas por proyectos de extracción de combustibles fósiles y que siguen luchando por sus derechos a un medio ambiente saludable y un clima seguro. También celebramos a las mujeres que están impulsando este cambio. Para lograr soluciones a la crisis climática significativas y sostenibles, es fundamental poner la igualdad de género, los derechos humanos y los derechos de los pueblos indígenas en el centro de toda acción por el clima.

Como encargadas de adoptar decisiones, miembros y líderes de sus comunidades, las mujeres están impulsando este cambio y es imperativo que adopten este papel de liderazgo en todos los niveles.

También quisiéramos expresar nuestro apoyo a la Declaración de Lofoten, que cuenta con el apoyo de personas de todo el mundo, en la que se exige a los productores de combustibles fósiles que tracen un camino para poner fin a su dependencia. Se realizaron llamamientos similares en una poderosa carta dirigida a usted recientemente por 750 organizaciones de la sociedad civil de diferentes partes del mundo.

Mientras se prepara para organizar la Cumbre de Acción Mundial sobre el Clima en septiembre, esperamos que utilice su “valentía e imaginación” para sentar nuevos precedentes para los próximos años de acción por el clima, que serán muy importantes.

Atentamente,

Mairead Maguire, Northern Ireland, 1976

Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Guatemala, 1992

Jody Williams, U.S.A., 1997

Shirin Ebadi, Iran, 2003

Leymah Gbowee, Liberia, 2011

Tawakkol Karman, Yemen, 2011

Download the PDF here, and in Spanish here.

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The Nobel Women's Initiative was established in 2006 by sister Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Betty Williams and Mairead Maguire. We six women - representing North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa - have decided to bring together our extraordinary experiences in a united effort for peace with justice and equality.

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