101 Nobel Laureates call out the continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry as “unconscionable”

New Delhi/Dhaka/Kathmandu/Thimphu 21 April 2021 – 101 Nobel laureates, including Kailash Satyarthi, Muhammad Yunus and HH Dalai Lama have called upon world leaders gathering at the US-led Leaders Summit on Climate to foster international cooperation to end the expansion of fossil fuels and accelerate the transition to clean energy with no one left behind.

In the open letter, the 101 Nobel laureates – across peace, medicine, physics, economics, chemistry and literature – identify the climate crisis as the greatest moral issue of our time. They recognize that governments have been too slow to respond to the shared warnings by science and people-powered movements and the urgent and cooperative international action is needed to keep fossil fuels in the ground and to avoid climate catastrophe.

The letter states: “The Paris Agreement has no mention of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry continues to plan new projects. Banks continue to fund new projects. According to the most recent United Nations Environment Programme report, 120% more coal, oil and gas will be produced by 2030 than is consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C.

“Allowing the continued expansion of this industry is unconscionable. The fossil fuel system is global and requires a global solution – a solution the Leaders’ Climate Summit must work towards and the first step is to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

Climate inaction tops the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Risks Report as “an existential threat to humanity”. Fossil fuels are a big driver of the climate crisis and this level of threat requires global cooperation at a scale commensurate with previous global crises, be it nuclear weapon proliferation, ozone depletion or land mines.

Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace laureate (Bangladesh) for his work on microcredit: “We are at a momentous juncture in time for a bold new orld. Let’s take this opportunity to reshape a post-COVID-19 society and propel ourselves toward a fairer and greener future. We can build a world where the poor will not continue to be overwhelmingly victimized by global warming. The technology exists, the desire from the people exists and the world waits on heads of state to act.”

Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace laureate (USA) for her work to ban landmines : “More countries around the world are declaring climate change a national security issue. But we need to move away from this national security framework – meaning weapons and war – to a human security one where meeting the basic needs of people, including a healthy environment, are paramount. The impacts of climate change on communities, families and individuals are far reaching. And with fossil fuels responsible for 80% of warming, governments need to be bold and stop fossil fuel expansion in the name of human security.”

With 17 major economies responsible for 80% of global emissions and global GDP represented, the Leaders’ Climate Summit could be a critical milestone toward framing global cooperation based on equity principles as imbibed in UNFCCC, between the Global North and Global South at COP26 as well as in the United States’ effort to reposition climate as core to its diplomacy.

The letter from Nobel laureates outlines its call to world leaders to initiate a new chapter of international cooperation that would:

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

Sanjay Vashist, Director of Climate Action Network South Asia said: “.World leaders must halt further expansion of oil, coal, and gas that is threatening very existence of humankind, biodiversity, clean water and air, and infringing on the rights of Indigenous peoples and vulnerable communities. It is time for heads of state, across the globe, to come together in service of people and our planet, and use the Summit as a launching pad for a better, cleaner future. Failure is not an option.”

Tzeporah Berman, Chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative and International Program Director at Stand.earth said: “In this critical year for climate and with mounting pressure on governments to act quickly, we are thrilled to have Nobel laureates such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tawakkol Karman and Juan Manuel Santos join this call to stop fossil fuel expansion. We already have more than enough fossil fuel in production to make the renewable transition, making expansion plans redundant and a hindrance to progress. With political attention to climate at its highest since the lead up to Paris, heads of state must use the Summit to put an international spotlight on the need to stop oil, gas and coal expansion.”

The letter to the heads of state was coordinated by the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative and Climate Action Network South Asia is available at www.fossilfueltreaty.org/nobel-letter

For more information contact: Sanjay Vashist, Director, Climate Action Network South Asia : Sanjay@cansouthasia.net – Tel: +91-9910096125