Skip navigation

Motion: Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (17:13): I move:

That this council—

1. Acknowledges that the scientific consensus is clear that human activities are primarily responsible for accelerating global climate change;

2. Recognises that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in 2018 that we must achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of this century in order to have a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to 1.5º Celsius;

3. Acknowledges that phasing out fossil fuel production and fast-tracking the transition to 100 per cent renewables will require unprecedented international cooperation on nonproliferation, global disarmament, and a just transition; and

4. Calls on the South Australian government to endorse the call for an international treaty on fossil fuel nonproliferation.

I rise today to call on this parliament to join the many other parliaments across the world in calling for and endorsing a fossil fuel nonproliferation treaty. This treaty is modelled on the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and would end expansion of new fossil fuel projects, phase-out existing projects fairly and in line with climate science, and ensure a just transition globally for workers, for communities and countries that have been dependent on fossil fuels.

These pillars of the fossil fuel treaty have been endorsed by more than 120 parliamentarians; 2,500 scientists and academics; 101 Nobel laureates; cities, including Sydney, Barcelona and Los Angeles; 800 civil society organisations; health institutions, representing 100,000-plus professionals; Indigenous peoples around the world; senior faith leaders, including the Dalai Lama; and 500 youth climate leaders.

The message is clear: the end of coal, oil and gas is inevitable. We must stop subsidising this dead and deadly industry and join the global push to phase-out fossil fuels. There are better, cleaner ways to get our energy. The technology is there and what we need to do is follow through and invest in it.

It is immoral that, as the climate crisis escalates, fossil fuel companies are able to post record profits on the back of the exploitation of a global resource, their growth fed by government subsidies and tax cuts and further enabled by this spineless approval of ever more destructive and dangerous projects. The time for incrementalism is well and truly over. We have had over 50 years since the public has known, and there have been well-known warnings about climate change and the risks of fossil fuel.

As we hit 1.2º of warming, any further delay in action is actually an act of denial. This denial will kill many. It already has. We have spent decades focused on climate policy that is not giving us action fast enough. As much as we invest in alternatives such as wind and solar and increase the price of carbon, we have no mechanism at present to counteract the tax breaks, fossil fuel subsidies and delay tactics that are distorting the energy market and allowing fossil fuels to flourish. Tzeporah Berman, the chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, says it best:

We can't rely on the fossil fuel industry to break business as usual, especially one that delivers unthinkable profits for the industry while the rest of us reel from the ripple effects of high fuel prices. That's why there is an urgent need for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to end the expansion of oil, gas and coal, phase out existing production to limit warming to manageable levels and accelerate a fair energy transition where wealthy, fossil fuel-producing nations lead and support other countries so there is affordable, clean energy from sun, wind and water for everyone.

We cannot have it both ways. If we are committed to a net zero future as we say we are, if we are committed to limiting the impacts of climate change as we say we are, then we cannot keep delaying. We must urgently commit to a global framework to phase-out coal, oil and gas fairly and forever. The International Energy Agency has warned that no new oil and gas reservoirs should open up if the world is to do what it has agreed to do at the Paris Agreement.

A study last year found that 90 per cent of coal and 60 per cent of oil and gas reserves need to stay in the ground just to give a 50 per cent chance of limiting global heating to 1.5º Celsius. Just last week, we heard from the National Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland that major sea level rise caused by melting of the Greenland ice cap is 'now inevitable', with a 'very conservative rock-bottom minimum' rise of 27 centimetres set to occur regardless of what climate action is taken from this point onwards. It is devastating.

The time for incrementalism, if there ever was one, is well and truly over. We need strong, significant commitments now, and we must fast-track the transition away from fossil fuels. We have had decades of missed opportunities, and the consequences are now catching up with us. We are seeing record heatwaves, droughts across Europe and Asia, rivers drying up, including the Rhine and the Loire in Europe, parts of the Yangtze in China and the Colorado River in the US, and no-one in South Australia can forget about the Murray. At the same time, one-third of Pakistan is currently submerged—one-third of that country—due to catastrophic flooding.

All of this news is terrible. The impacts of climate change are terrible. I know that it can be hard and dispiriting to listen to this information again and again, but we are living this and there is a lot to be hopeful for. The good news is that rapid global exit from coal, oil and gas is possible. We have more than enough energy renewable resources to meet the energy needs of everyone.

We have used global treaties in the past to defuse global threats before: nuclear weapons, deadly landmines and ozone depleting chemicals, to name a few. We know that this approach can work. We must come together in the spirit of international cooperation and begin to negotiate a fossil fuel nonproliferation treaty. I commend the motion.

Continue Reading

Read More

Motion: Iran and Human Rights

June 06, 2024

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I rise on behalf of the Greens to support the motion put before this place by the Hon. Mira El Dannawi, and I thank her for doing so and for her work with the community. The Iranian Revolution of 1977-79...

Read more

Motion: Zonta Club

May 17, 2024

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: It is my absolute pleasure to support this motion that the Hon. Reggie Martin has brought before us today in support of the fine women of Zonta. Indeed, over the years I have had quite a bit to do with...

Read more