Hhurricane Ian recently swept the Caribbean and the east coast of the US. It could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida history. All of Cuba lost power for several days; homes were taken; and repairing the damage can cost billions.
Storms are natural meteorological phenomena, but some studies have found that extreme weather conditions directly contributed to 10% of the rainfall in Hurricane Ian. Undoubtedly, we are already in the eye of an even bigger, global storm – and with every fraction of a degree of global warming, the damage increases.
Yet as politicians are preoccupied with the global price crisis, they willfully fail to join the dots. It’s the rising cost of gas, caused by Russia’s devastating war in Ukraine, that has plunged us into eye-watering electricity bills, and put supply volatility under the microscope. We know that fossil fuels are the cause, and we know that breaking our dependence and keeping them off the ground is our only way out. But for some reason, we haven’t stopped digging.
Why? Because the fossil giants, and the nations that support them, act like tobacco companies, they stonewall any attempt to reduce – let alone eliminate – global fossil fuel production. Global climate diplomacy has now become an anti-smoking campaign that is too afraid to mention the word “tobacco”.
The landmark 2015 agreement in Paris failed to contain a single reference to fossil fuels, and the Cop26 Glasgow climate deal agreed last year would “call on” countries to end “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” – as if they were working. Even the tongue of coal was reduced to a small gruel, from the “phase out” to the “phase down”.
No wonder the fossil fuel industry is thriving, and we haven’t stopped our deadly 40-day habit.
We need a global solution to end this seam, with justice and security at the heart to ensure that no country is left behind in the energy transition – and that is why fossil fuel non-proliferation is so important. Enshrined in the nuclear non-proliferation treaty signed by 191 countries around the world, it fulfills the existing UN framework with three specific goals: ending all exploration and production of fossil fuels; phase out existing fossil fuel production in line with 1.5C; and to embrace a just change for every worker, community and country.
The agreement has so far been supported by more than 65 cities and sub-national governments around the world. And just a few days ago, the island of Vanuatu became the first country to throw weight behind this agreement. The global south is on the brink of a climate emergency – countries like Vanuatu realize that every fraction of a degree is critical to the survival of their people, and every drop of oil makes a difference.
Any successful global deal to get off fossil fuels in order will depend on knowing what the fossil fuel giants plan when it comes to drilling and pumping in the future. This is where the global fossil fuel registry comes in.
The world’s first public database of fossil fuel production, reserves and emissions, developed by Carbon Tracker and Global Energy Monitor, contains data on more than 50,000 sources in 89 countries, covering 75% of global production. And it has already been found that producing and burning the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves would waste the remaining 1.5C carbon budget more than seven times over.
This fact exposes the folly of countries like ours, which plow ahead with new products and infrastructure – such as the North Sea oil and gas fields including Cambo and Jackdaw – fueling our toxic fossil fuel habit and leading to a vicious cycle of incarceration. emissions.
The need to conserve fossil fuels is undeniable. But in this energy crisis, a clean, green, cheap and long-term alternative is needed in their place – and luckily, it’s ready and waiting.
Here in the UK, renewables are now nine times cheaper than gas; and globally, the sun and wind have the potential to meet our planet’s energy needs 100 times over. It just requires the political will to adopt infrastructure at speed and scale.
And it’s starting to happen. Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which was passed in August, has been labeled “the biggest climate initiative ever” – it ordered $369 billion in investments towards renewable energy and reducing the US’s current astronomical emissions.
Even here in the UK, one small silver lining from Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget omnishambles mini was the unfettered use of onshore wind – one of the cheapest and most popular ways to generate energy.
But no matter how many renewables we bring online, our security will continue to be undermined unless they replace, rather than simply add, fossil fuels to the world’s inventory.
As the storm gathers pace, and the window for a safe and sustainable future is closing fast, we must come together to save the world’s fossil fuels for good.