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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Belmopan leads Caribbean with endorsement of Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty

The Belizean capital of Belmopan has signed a motion calling for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, a global mechanism that aims to explicitly address the source of 86% of CO2 emissions that cause climate change: fossil fuels. The support was made official by a statement from the mayor with council approval.

Belmopan Mayor, Sheran Palacio, and Sebastián Navarro, Secretary-General at CC35 Capital Cities Secretariat, celebrate the city’s endorsement of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Photo Credit: Belmopan Mayor’s Office

Belmopan Mayor, Sheran Palacio, said: “Belmopan wants to lead the transition to a zero-emissions matrix. It is time for cities to see the economic opportunities for a new clean infrastructure (buildings, energy, transportation and waste) that avoids dependence on fossil fuels and that will not only benefit the planet but also reduce costs for the public and private sector. The Caribbean capitals must accelerate the transition to decarbonisation to achieve independence in their operating systems that impact citizens above all.”

The capital of Belize, described as an example of climate adaptation, was founded in 1970 in response to the climate vulnerability of the previous coastal capital of Belize City, having been subject to major flooding and other impacts from tropical storms that disrupted government functions. While having an overall negative carbon footprint, Belmopan still faces climate challenges related to drinking water availability, population growth in flood-prone areas, and food security.

This endorsement is the latest in a series of serious climate actions by Belmopan, including a commitment to decarbonise by 2040 through CC35, a regional coalition building support for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty across its 35-member capital cities within the Americas. It includes a follow-up action urging the national government to endorse this initiative as well. Belize as a whole already faces hurricanes, flooding, sea level rise, coastal erosion, coral bleaching and droughts, with impacts likely to intensify given the projected increase in climate volatility and sea temperature.

Building resilience and engagement with development partners has been central to Belize’s policymaking and is also reflected in the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement and work through its National Climate Change Office.

Sebastian Navarro, Secretary-General at CC35 Capital Cities Secretariat, said: “The commitments of many capitals of the Americas to Race to Zero are directly connected to adopting serious deadlines to abandon fossil fuel dependence. The climate emergency that the planet is experiencing needs clear political decisions that will also generate great economic opportunities for new players. We must protect the citizens of our region by changing the tax incentives for those who bet on the survival of humanity and also approve the necessary regulations to stop those who are leading us down the road to self-destruction.”

Latin American and Caribbean governments have been prioritising the climate fight, particularly seeking to strengthen and solidify global responses to climate change. This was evident at July’s Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week where regional hope for action persevered as sea levels continue to rise at a faster rate than globally and population displacement is aggravated. This leadership will also be carried into the UN system as Simon Stiell of Grenada has been named the new Executive Secretary of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat.

Tzeporah Berman, Chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, said: “Belmopan, like many Caribbean capitals and small island states around the world, is facing the devastating consequences of a climate crisis that they did not cause. By calling for an international Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Belizean capital is demanding a markedly different global future. One that phases out coal, oil and gas and the climate havoc they fuel and instead pivots to a renewable future where the Caribbean can thrive free from rising seas and the ravages of an unjust climate emergency.”

The endorsement, according to the Treaty’s promoters, reinforces the global momentum around the proposed Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Treaty proposal is now supported by 101 Nobel laureates, 3,000 academics, more than 60 global cities and subnational governments, a growing interfaith group of religious leaders, 320 parliamentarians, thousands of youth activists, and over 1,500 civil society organisations.

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