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Friday, January 27, 2023

Warsaw calls for end to fossil fuel age

Warsaw 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. Warsaw is officially the first in the nation and in Central Europe to join the call.

Fossil fuel pollution
Fossil fuel pollution from a coal power station

It has been described as a strong move from the capital of a country where fossil fuels still account for 85% of total energy supply, with coal holding the largest share.

Marek Szolc, Member of the Warsaw City Council, said: “The role of cities in achieving climate neutrality is crucial. The Warsaw City Council’s support for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty initiative is an important signal that we have a consensus in the city on a course of action. But we cannot stop at declarations. Warsaw still doesn’t have an official greenhouse gas reduction target formalised in a city document, and the unofficial one – a 40% reduction by 2030 – won’t be met with the current trend of declining emissions.”

A Fossil Fuel Treaty source said: “Momentum behind this treaty is undoubtedly growing rapidly and it’s promising to see a capital city like Warsaw join. We hope this leadership is a signal for the capital to inspire the country to secure its energy independence via a path of a fair and just energy transition.”

The vote is the result of two generations of Polish activists – from the youth movements Wschód and Fridays for the Future as well as Parents for Future – who appealed to the authorities in Warsaw to get to know the new initiative and to join it.

Kamila Kadzidłowska from the Rodzice dla Klimatu – Parents for Future movement Parents for Climate, said: “The capital of ‘Coalland’, as Poland is known internationally, is joining the anti-fossil fuel movement. This is a breakthrough in its popularisation in Europe. Warsaw is raising the bar. Now it’s time for other cities, such as Gdansk, Poznan and Wroclaw, and for a change in national policy. It’s time to end Poland’s dependency on fossil fuels.”

Dominika Lasota, Fridays For Future  climate justice activist from the Inicjatywa “Wschód”, said: “Warsaw’s accession to the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is also a signal to climate movements. A commitment to climate justice and collective pressure on the authorities makes sense. Even  general declarations give us a basis to demand more concrete steps in the future.”

The war in Ukraine has altered Europe’s energy landscape, prior to which Poland largely relied on Russia for its energy needs. 75% of Poland’s imported coal came from Russia before the war. Many in Ukraine, neighbouring countries and beyond have stressed that the world should not simply replace Russian-produced fossil fuels with fossil fuels from other countries.

Svitlana Romanko, founder and director of Razom We Stand in Ukraine, said: “The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is a powerful political instrument to achieve the fossil fuel phase out that we hope can end the fossil fuel addiction that backs up war, conflict and climate injustice. The past year has shown us the importance of joining forces to both fight fossil fuel dictatorship and exacerbated the energy and climate crisis. We believe that great leadership of Warsaw will inspire other capital cities, Kyiv included, to stand against prolonging the fossil fuel era.”

In addition to recent support from nation states like Vanuatu and Tuvalu, the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty has been endorsed by more than 70 cities and subnational governments around the globe, including London, Lima, Los Angeles, Kolkata, Paris and the Hawai’i State Legislature. The three pillars of the proposal have been called for by 101 Nobel laureates, over 500 parliamentarians, 3,000 scientists and academics as well as 1,800 civil society organisations.

Wiktoria Jędroszkowiak, climate justice activist Fridays For Future / Wschód, said: “This decision is a good step, but mainly the result of pressure of parents and climate activists. We hope that Warsaw will be the first, but certainly not the last city in Poland to decide to join the treaty.”

Dominika Lasota, climate justice activist Fridays For Future / Wschód, said: “We are waiting for plans and initiatives, this time from the City Hall, to make Warsaw implement the provisions of the treaty as soon as possible. The dynamic development of solar energy is a task for Warsaw in the coming months. Other Polish cities must also follow this path.”

Kamila Kadzidłowska, Rodzice dla Klimatu – Parents For Future Poland, said: “Warsaw, the capital of “Węgland”, supporting the global initiative for the gradual phasing out of fossil fuels and supporting a just transition, gives hope that after decades of dependence on fossil fuels, we will stop financing dealers, go into a healthy detox and deal with crises together.”

Magdalena Zając, Rodzice dla Klimatu – Parents For Future Poland, said: “Thanks to climate activists who still believe in our country, we have achieved a symbolic goal – the treaty on the non-proliferation of fossil fuels in Warsaw. It looks like “Coalland’’ is regaining its old name – Poland.”

Marzena Wichniarz, Rodzice dla Klimatu – Parents For Future Poland, said: “This is a groundbreaking step that puts Warsaw at the forefront of European cities fighting for a green, just transformation. It is also a commitment that the decisions that will be made now are in line with the policy of phasing out fossil fuels. For us, it is hoped that the green trend will soon cover all of Poland.”

Parents for Future Global said: “Parents for Future Global congratulate the Council of Warsaw on their decision to support the fossil fuel nonproliferation treaty and thank the Polish parents from Rodzice dla Klimatu for all the effort they have made, and are making, to ensure that children from all corners of the earth will be safe from climate impacts.  We hope more parents from around the world will ask their Councils and Governments to support the treaty too. If we all do a little we can all change a lot.”

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