Call for International Action in Interlinked Crises of Fossil Fuels, Plastics, and Climate Change

During the inaugural session of the 6th Assembly of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6), environmental experts and advocates joined forces to advocate for decisive action against the interconnected climate and plastics crises, driven by the use of fossil fuels.

The imperative to phase out fossil fuels gained prominence during COP28 in Dubai, where member states exhibited a notable commitment to prioritizing renewable energy as a solution to the emissions crisis. Recognizing the symbiotic relationship between plastics and fossil fuels in exacerbating pollution and emissions, there is a pressing need for their simultaneous eradication to mitigate the severity of the climate crises.

Amos Wemanya, Senior Advisor for Renewable Energy and Just Transitions at Powershift Africa underscored the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels to avert catastrophic climate change. He emphasized that despite decades of coal, oil, and gas extraction, millions of Africans still lack access to power, highlighting the imperative for member states at UNEA-6 to commit to a swift and equitable transition to renewable energy.

The establishment of the Non-Proliferation Fossil Fuel Treaty reflects a collective commitment among member states to invest in clean energy projects as part of their pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, there are notable gaps and challenges, including resistance from lobbyists advocating for stricter control measures.

Seble Samuel, Head of Africa Campaigns and Advocacy for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative emphasized the need for a binding Global Plastics Treaty alongside the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to address the root causes of both crises—fossil fuels. Notably, plastic production is intricately linked to the fossil fuel industry, exacerbating greenhouse gas emissions.

As global fossil fuel demand declines, the fossil fuel industry increasingly relies on plastics as a lifeline, perpetuating emissions and exacerbating the climate emergency. Hellen Kahaso Dena, Project Lead of the Pan-Africa Plastics Project at Greenpeace Africa, stressed the importance of a robust Global Plastics Treaty to address the plastic crisis and curb fossil fuel dependency.

Seble Samuel reiterated the urgency of adopting an international treaty to phase out fossil fuels equitably and facilitate a financed global transition to distributed renewable energy systems. This treaty is essential to diversify economies, deploy renewables, and prioritize justice and equity, particularly for affected communities in Africa.

Greenpeace Africa, Powershift Africa, and the Fossil-Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative urge UNEA-6 member states to develop and ratify a comprehensive and binding Global Plastic Treaty addressing the entire lifecycle of plastics. Additionally, they call for the endorsement and implementation of an international fossil fuel treaty to facilitate a fair transition away from fossil fuel production towards sustainable and renewable energy sources

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