The Paris Agreement addresses the need to cut CO2 emissions, but astonishingly doesn’t actually mention the largest cause of emissions – fossil fuels. At COP27 in Egypt this year, there was some recognition of this omission, and an attempt to force oil and gas onto the final wording, but in the end, only coal made it onto the final agreement.

Following COP, Real Media interviewed Tzeporah Berman, the Chair of the Fossil Fuel Treaty initiative, who had attended the conference to promote this movement, which is working towards a global treaty analogous to previous nuclear and chemical weapons bans.

Launched just two years ago, the movement is already endorsed by thousands of organisations, parliamentarians, scientists and church leaders.

The first countries, Vanuatu and Tuvalu have also proposed the treaty at the UN and COP, and at least twenty more countries are potentially joining the call to begin negotiations.

In armament non-proliferation treaties, the first step is to inspect and take stock of each country’s weapons capabilities. According to Tzeporah, just to know their own extraction and emission footprints, even governments often have to buy data from international agencies such as Rystad, which collates information from fossil fuel companies. So she’s been working with Carbon Tracker and Global Energy Monitor, and in September they launched an accessible and free global registry, transparently tracking who is producing what and where.

Thirty years ago, while researching a thesis around the debates on logging in Western Canada, Tzeporah ended up organising the then largest act of civil disobedience in Canada, to try to prevent massive deforestation of the ancient Clayoquot rain forests there. In our interview, she speaks about the role that direct action has to play to get society to wake up and to get politicians to act.

Citing the example of Ecuador, a country which is drilling for oil in the heart of the Amazon just to feed their debt, Tzeporah explains how a global treaty is essential to address the problem of achieving a just and equitable transition. Wealthy countries are still responsible for the majority of fossil fuel expansion even now, not the Global South, and recording and acknowledging this is a step towards a solution. She quotes Nelson Mandela – “It always seems impossible until it’s done”.

Although the Fossil Fuel Treaty will eventually have to be signed by governments at an international and global level, Tzeporah characterises the process as a movement aiming to address the issues of a globally just transition, and this will need pressure at every level, so she encourages people to join in, download resources from the website, and start initiatives at their local, council and city level.

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