Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"We urgently need a comprehensive approach to the problem." (Image: Food & Water Watch)

"We urgently need a comprehensive approach to the problem." (Image: Food & Water Watch)

As California Burns, Nobel Peace Laureates Call on Governor Brown to Phase Out Fossil Fuel Production

Like many self-identified “climate leaders,” California is dangerously ignoring the reality that in order to meaningfully tackle climate change we have to address fossil fuel production

As wildfires devastate regions of California, the impacts of climate change couldn’t be hitting much closer to home for Governor Jerry Brown while he gears up to host the Global Climate Action Summit in September.

While the Governor has been a long-time champion of ambitious and innovative approaches to tackling the problem, he has sidelined one critical piece of the puzzle: He has not yet advanced any policies to confront and address California’s own fossil fuel production.

While the Governor has been a long-time champion of ambitious and innovative approaches to tackling the problem, he has sidelined one critical piece of the puzzle: He has not yet advanced any policies to confront and address California’s own fossil fuel production. In fact, since he took office in 2011, Governor Brown’s administration has issued more than 20,000 permits for oil companies like Chevron to drill new wells in California. Ignoring fossil fuel production is like trying to solve the climate crisis with one arm tied behind your back. We need to address both supply and demand if we are going to wind down fossil fuels in line with what it will take to meet the Paris goals.

The latest voices to call on California and Governor Brown to tackle fossil fuel production are five Nobel Peace Laureates (Spanish version here). These laureates add their voices to calls from local California elected officials, scientists and academics, a massive global civil society coalition, and grassroots and frontline communities in California.

The letter calls on the Governor and the state “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.”

Like many self-identified “climate leaders,” California is dangerously ignoring the reality that in order to meaningfully tackle climate change we have to address fossil fuel production. As the letter points out:

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.

Decades after beginning to understand and tackle climate change through policies that primarily address fossil fuel demand and consumption (i.e., efficiency measures, carbon pricing, electrification of transportation, etc.), the tough reality is that emissions are still rising globally and safer temperature limits are becoming harder and harder to meet. We urgently need a comprehensive approach to the problem. We need all of these critical demand-side measures AND complementary measures that limit supply and production.

"The tough reality is that emissions are still rising globally and safer temperature limits are becoming harder and harder to meet."

We need governments and decision makers to stand up and say “no” to the fossil fuel sector. Countries like France, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Belize, and Ireland are all setting precedents by beginning to implement various policies that aim to end fossil fuel exploration and expansion and manage the decline of production. We need more regions to follow suit.

The Laureates also offer their support for a letter sent to the Governor by over 800 civil society organizations as well as for the Lofoten Declaration, both of which call for a just transition and managed decline of fossil fuel production starting with leadership from wealthy jurisdictions like California.

The letter commends and celebrates the frontline communities in California and globally that are fighting for their rights, and it notes that, “gender equality, human rights, and the rights of indigenous people [must be] central to all climate action.”

Read the full letter here and the press release here. Visit www.BrownsLastChance.org for more on the campaign to demand real climate leadership from Governor Brown in the lead up to the Global Climate Action Summit. You can also check out the recent report from OCI and allies, The Sky’s Limit California: Why the Paris climate goals demand that California lead in a managed decline of oil extraction


© 2021 Oil Change International

Hannah McKinnon

Hannah McKinnon a climate activist and contributing writer for Oil Change International. Follow her on Twitter: @mckinnon_hannah

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist Thích Nhất Hạnh Dead at 95

"He inspired so many good people to dedicate themselves to working for a more just and compassionate world."

Jessica Corbett ·


Draft Order Shows Trump Considered Using Military to Seize Voting Machines

"This was part of the records that Trump was fighting to keep from the January 6th committee," one government watchdog noted.

Brett Wilkins ·


Groups Warn US Lawmakers Against Fueling 'New Cold War' With China

A policy of hostility toward Beijing, says a global justice advocate, has "become a convenient excuse for pushing a corporate, militarist agenda."

Jessica Corbett ·


Democracy 'On the Line' Says Bowman After Protest Arrest

"I will not stand by and I will not stay quiet while the fate of our democracy continues to hang loosely by a thread that the Senate is hellbent on tearing apart."

Julia Conley ·


To 'Hold Her Accountable for What She Did,' Primary Sinema Project Gets Into Gear

"Kyrsten Sinema is unfit to be a United States senator," the project asserts. "Just like the filibuster itself, we need to get rid of her if we want to save our democracy before it's too late."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo