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  • Writer's picture Paul Boëffard


Updated: Mar 29

  • Global cooperation: Nations should collaborate to formulate a novel climate agreement and initiative explicitly aimed at the phased elimination of fossil fuels.

  • Civil mobilisation: When citizens unite and employ effective strategies, they wield the power to thwart climate bombs projects.

  • Financial Compensation: Incentivizing countries to abstain from drilling and benefiting from their oil resources could be an effective way to leave carbon underground

The need for a New International Fossil Fuel oriented Accord

A surging global momentum is underway, advocating for a groundbreaking international mechanism to complement the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, which notably lack explicit references to fossil fuels. The non-binding nature of COP commitments and the inadequacy of their consensus model hinder the radical changes required for the imperative phase-out of fossil fuels. In response, civil society is pushing for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, garnering support from the Vatican, the World Health Organization, the European Parliament, Nobel laureates, researchers, governments, and various civil society organizations.

A significant leap in this initiative is the establishment of an independent Global Registry of Fossil Fuels by Carbon Tracker and Global Energy Monitor in February 2021. Engineered to enhance transparency and accountability in fossil fuel production and reserves, it holds the potential to serve as a model for a UN-hosted registry.

Pioneering efforts by country alliances, such as the Powering Past Coal Alliance (2017) and the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (2021), have committed to halting new fossil fuel exploration and phasing out production, setting influential precedents for global action. These early adopters are paving the way for other governments to follow suit.

Civil mobilisation and climate activism

A pivotal force in countering potential climate threats stems from the mobilization of frontline activists, Indigenous Peoples, and civil society organizations. These proven strategies exhibit efficacy not only in preventing newly proposed projects but also in challenging recently approved ones.

A compelling example is the Stop EACOP campaign, where communities in Uganda and Tanzania, alongside global allies, successfully influenced several international banks and insurers to withdraw funding from the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). Spanning 1,444 kilometers, the EACOP pipeline aims to transport 1.4 million barrels of crude oil extracted by TotalEnergies and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation.

Similarly, the ConocoPhillips Willow Project, with an estimate of 629 million barrels of oil production over 30 years, has triggered a surge of resistance on social media. Dedicated TikTok accounts are emerging, encouraging the signing of petitions, with the most popular petition amassing 3 million signatures. TikTok hashtags like #stopwillow and #stopthewillowproject, each accumulating around 150 million views, showcase videos by young activists critiquing President Biden for potential backtracking on his promise to cease new oil drilling on federal land.

On March 2023, The Biden administration, brushing aside climate concerns and his candidate promises, approved the controversial oil drilling project for economic reasons: "The Willow Project is critically important for Alaska's economy". On the first day of 2024, the first 100 kilometers of line pipes for the massive cross-border EACOP project have just arrived in Tanzania.

Financial Compensation Strategies to Deter Oil Drilling

Financial compensation as an incentive for governments to abstain from oil drilling is a nuanced and debated concept. Advocates argue that providing alternative economic support can dissuade nations from engaging in environmentally harmful practices, fostering a transition toward more sustainable energy sources.

The noteworthy Yasuni ITT initiative in Ecuador marks a compelling initial effort with both promises and areas for improvement. Yasuni National Forest in Ecuador, renowned for its biodiversity and ancestral significance, holds approximately 30 percent of the nation's oil reserves. Plans for oil exploitation spurred civil society and scientists to advocate for preserving the oil in exchange for compensatory financial mechanisms. The initiative gained momentum after the 2005 Ecuadorian Revolution, backed by socialist leader Raphael Correa, who presented it at the United Nations, seeking $3.6 billion by 2024 through a National Development Fund to support renewable projects and alleviate poverty. Unfortunately, it was discontinued in 2013 due to insufficient global support, raising only $13 million.

Explore further insights on the shortcomings of the Yasuni ITT initiative and potential improvements through carbon markets :

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