Bonn’s city council has endorsed the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, a global initiative that aims to address the source of 80% of the CO2 emissions that cause climate change: fossil fuels.
The vote received support from Green, Social Democrat, Left Party and Volt councilors and passed as Germany’s new coalition government agreed on a 2030 coal exit and diplomatic pressure mounts around the near-complete and controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a project that would emit the equivalent of 5% of all 2019 EU CO2 emissions if carried out.
Mayor of Bonn, Katja Dörner, welcomes the city’s participation, saying: “The goals of the global initiative coincide with the City of Bonn’s commitment to the Paris 1.5-degree target laid down in our climate emergency resolution and with our goal of being climate neutral by 2035. One thing is clear: the only way to achieve climate neutrality is through renewable energies and a gradual decarbonisation of our energy supply. The City of Bonn has expressed this with its mission statement resolution on climate protection and climate adaptation and has set itself the goal of successively converting its energy supply to renewable energies by 2035.”
Since Bonn itself was host to the UN climate talks 20 years ago and the 2017 COP23 conference presided over by Fiji, the international conversation has shifted with clear scientific consensus that fossil fuels are the biggest driver of the climate crisis and fossil fuels finally getting a mention in the closing text of the latest negotiations. Yet, the world’s governments are still expected to produce more than twice the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C.
Bonn’s vote sends a strong message to the international community about the importance of shifting from just mentioning fossil fuels towards earnest action to address the climate crisis. They join dozens of cities – including Los Angeles, Barcelona, Sydney and Dhulikhel in Nepal – who are also demanding this Treaty as a framework for international cooperation to phase out oil, gas, and coal production and ensure that our goal of 1.5°C stays alive. In contrast to the lack of concrete climate commitments by many Northern countries at COP 26 in Glasgow, the city of Bonn is taking real action to meet the climate challenge.
The motion was submitted by Bonn citizen and EU climate pact ambassador Sven Harmeling and supported by six local organisations and groups: Extinction Rebellion, Fridays For Future, Germanwatch, Moratorium-A565, Parents for Future and Psychologists, Psychotherapists for Future. It stipulates that the city of Bonn joins the Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation initiative and its efforts to phase-out of fossil fuels and ensure a fair transition to a sustainable and climate-friendly energy system based on renewable energies.
Sven Harmeling, Bonn citizen and volunteer EU Climate Pact Ambassador, who submitted the motion, said: “As the capital of the international climate diplomacy and host city of the UNFCCC secretariat, it is important for Bonn’s credibility to act as a consistent champion for the 1.5° C target of the Paris Agreement and to take the necessary steps for its implementation. Bonn’s endorsement of the initiative for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty as the first city in Germany is a logical addition to the city’s previous climate protection resolutions, policies and measures and must now be translated into subsequent concrete measures.”
The initiative for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, inspired by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and supported by more than 1,000 civil society organisations, gained further momentum at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. The growing circle of supporters includes 101 Nobel Laureates, 2,600 academics, 150 Parliamentarians, youth leaders and international faith leaders.
Seble Samuel, Cities Lead for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, said: “Cities around the world are building collective momentum for a fossil fuel free world, and putting pressure on national governments to keep all fossil fuels in the ground. As the headquarters of the UN Climate Secretariat, Bonn’s move to call for an end to the fossil fuel era should reverberate across all signatories of the Paris Agreement, signalling that true climate leadership is fossil free.”
COP26 was insufficient, but the issue of fossil fuels is now on the table of climate negotiations. It will be impossible for both local and national governments to avoid tackling their production if they want to show real climate leadership.
Tasneem Essop, Executive Director of the Bonn-registered Climate Action Network International (CAN International), said: “A Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty offers a vision and path for what true international climate leadership and cooperation could look like. Climate action starts with local communities and cities making a commitment to abandon fossil fuel and leading the way for a just and equitable transition to clean energy.
“As home to the UN Climate Change Secretariat and the host city for numerous climate change meetings over the years, the City of Bonn can be a perfect example of such leadership. Having committed to the goal of being carbon neutral by 2035, the City of Bonn joining the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is an important signal to realise this promise and an inspiration to other cities to lead on efforts for a safe and healthy future.”