14 September, Kolkata – Kolkata Municipal Council today endorsed a global call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to “phase out fossil fuels by applying equity principles and pave path for a smooth just energy transition”. Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) joins Paris, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Lima and 60 other municipalities and becomes the largest city to support this international initiative to phase-out oil, gas and coal production, responsible for more than 80% of CO2 emissions in the last decade.
Kolkata, home to more than 14 million inhabitants, is among the top 10 cities across the world that face the most dangerous multi-hazard risks like cyclones, floods, droughts, earthquakes, landslides and are most vulnerable to disaster-related mortality. Also, rapid urbanisation and near-complete dependence on fossil fuel by the transport sector makes the city’s air quality extremely poor while the international scientific consensus is clear: to protect the human and planetary health, we need a rapid, equitable phase-out of fossil fuels globally.
Firhad Hakim, Mayor of Kolkata, said: “Despite various challenges, we have been working on several aspects of climate change and are happy to join this global initiative that is expected to contribute to our climate resilience. It is extremely important to make sure that the city population remains well prepared to minimise the catastrophic future effects of climate change. In this direction we, with support from the state government, have been pushing several actions like running the city’s commercial vehicles on non-fossil energy sources from 2030, particularly promoting electric vehicles in a major way; which will significantly reduce the city’s carbon footprint.”
The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative is spurring international cooperation to end new development of fossil fuels, phase out existing production within the agreed climate limit of 1.5°C and develop plans to support workers, communities and countries dependent on fossil fuels to create secure and healthy livelihoods. In the past year, the campaign has received support from 101 Nobel laureates, 3,000 academics, +500 parliamentarians from +60 countries, hundreds of youth activists, a growing group of religious leaders, thousands of parents , over 192 Health Professionals and more than 1,300 civil society organisations,.
Sanjay Vashist, Director, Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA), said: “I congratulate the city of Kolkata as the first and largest city in the South Asian region to pledge its support to the global call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Kolkata is demonstrating incredible leadership in calling for an international mechanism to create pathways for a fossil-fuel-free world and expressing its intent to limit the use of fossil fuel and inculcate climate resilience within the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, in the State of West Bengal. An old saying goes: ‘What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.’ In this vein, I hope the rest of the metropolitan cities in the South Asian region, already reeling under the effects of rapid urbanisation and climate change, will sign the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Local efforts, especially at city level, are extremely important in order to help minimise the catastrophic effects of climate change and adapt to the impacts better.”
Today, The World Health Organization, the International Pediatric Association, the World Medical Association, the Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment, and the World Federation of Public Health Associations are amongst the more than 192 signatories of a letter that demands that governments lay out a legally binding global plan to phase out fossil fuel use.
Harjeet Singh, Strategic Partnerships Advisor to the Initiative, said: “The city of Kolkata is leading the way and its support for the Treaty initiative strengthens the public policies already in place. Climate leadership from climate-vulnerable cities is essential to spur national governments to action. However, from a global perspective, we must not forget that it is the countries of the North, historically responsible for the climate crisis, that must act first to phase out oil, gas and coal. The UK lectured India on its refusal to phase out coal at COP 26 in Glasgow, but it is primarily the rich, producing countries, the least impacted and with the greatest resources for the energy transition, that must act as true climate leaders.“