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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Parents call for a global treaty to end fossil fuels ahead of Stockholm+50

Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the first international UN summit on the environment, parents, grandparents and carers from 32 countries have come together to demand a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to give children a liveable planet.

Stockholm-Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden, hosted the first international UN summit on environment 50 years ago

Their open letter decries that “the fossil fuel juggernaut continues on like a runaway train with our children’s futures on the track”, demanding that governments step up and phase out the primary cause of the climate crisis: fossil fuels.

The parents are from 121 climate parent groups across the world including Warrior Moms (India), Rodzice dla Klimatu (Poland) and Parents For Future Nigeria. The parents have gained support for their call from delegates that attended the first Stockholm conference 50 years ago.

Wilhelm Kulke, a father and grandfather from Germany, who attended the first Stockholm conference in 1972, said: “Today my grandchildren should be able to breathe clean air and live in a healthy environment. If climate protection, energy transition and renewable energy had been on the agenda fifty years ago, we would not have to fight against the negative consequences of climate risks now.  These demands must be heard by UN member states in Stockholm today.”

Dr Karan Singh, former union cabinet minister of India, also a father, grandfather and great grandfather who attended the first Stockholm conference in 1972, said:  “I’ve been following what has been happening over the last half century and I can only say that it’s a disaster. The dependence on fossil fuels is still very strong. We want children to grow up in an atmosphere that is healthy, not lethal like it is now in Delhi and many parts of India. Look at the wildfires that are destroying Australia and California. We need a recommitment to saving the planet, it’s the only planet we’ve got.  We have got to give top priority to developing alternative sources of energy.”

Despite this, national governments plan to continue to approve new fossil fuel production, setting the world on a path to produce more than twice the fossil fuels by 2030 than is consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5ºC target.

In their letter, the parents, grandparents and carers say “we need a new story, a new chapter for our children. This is why we are joining a growing call on governments to urgently commence negotiations to develop and implement a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty”.

Tzeporah Berman, mother of two and Chair for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, said: “Our children deserve to live in a world that is safe. A world in which they have opportunities and choices and are not struggling from one disaster to the next. One day I imagine that I will tell my grandchildren about this crazy time in history when we clawed at the last intact forests to get at the oil, a crazy time in history when we used to fill our cars and heat our homes with gas and they will barely believe me, because the world will be such a different place. We need a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to carve out the future that we want for our children and the future that they deserve.”

Ana Ancines, Parents For Future Colombia, added: “I brought my children into this world, but I am afraid for their futures. Humanity is in urgent need of rethinking its definition of success, happiness, wealth and progress. My children are two and five, but I don’t know what kind of air, water, soil or biodiversity we will have left in a few years’ time. The extraction and burning of fossil fuels is destroying what we need to survive.”

The proposed Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is critically needed to facilitate the international cooperation required to manage a fair and fast global transition away from coal, oil and gas. According to Leanne Brummell, Australian Parents For Climate Action: “In Australia, families have lost everything in bushfires and floods, whilst fossil fuel companies have continued to extract and profit. The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation treaty is the best chance we have to safeguard our children’s futures. Let’s seize it! We have the technology we need to leapfrog into a renewable energy future.”

Kamila Kadzidłowska, Rodzice dla Klimatu in Poland, added: “Fossil fuels are funding and causing war across the globe. In Poland, we are hosting refugee families from the war in the Ukraine. A war made possible because of Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas.”

The open letter outlines the parents’ call to world leaders, calling for a new international mechanism with three key pillars:

  • End new expansion of fossil fuel production in line with the best available science as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations Environment Programme
  • Phase out existing production of fossil fuels in a manner that is fair and equitable, taking into account the respective dependency of countries on fossil fuels, and their capacity to transition;
  • Invest in a transformational plan to ensure 100% access to renewable energy globally, support fossil fuel-dependent economies to diversify away from fossil fuels, and enable people and communities across the globe to flourish through a global just transition.

The open letter, publicly released on Friday, sees parents join 101 Nobel Laureates, 2,600 academics, 231 parliamentarians, hundreds of prominent youth leaders, a growing group of faith leaders and more than 1,300 civil society organisations that all support the global movement behind the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Ahead of its launch, the parent letter was open to parent climate groups as first signatories, as of today, any parent from across the world can sign their name in support.

Simon Ezike, Parents For Future Nigeria, said: “I want to have great stories to tell my son. I want to tell him about how the world came together to address climate change, and gave his generation and future ones a habitable world to live in. We need a transition to renewable sources of energy, away from fossil fuels.”

Bhavreen Kandhari, Warrior Moms, India: “In India, families have been sweltering in scorching heat since early May. For parents like us living in the most polluted cities of the world, for our children to have the lungs of a smoker by their teens, through no fault of their own, is absolutely heartbreaking. Even a newborn baby is effectively a smoker in Delhi. We need to change the path we are on for the sake of all our children, their health and future.”

The full letter and list of signatories is available here.

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