C: Andy Rowell
Photo credit: Andy Rowell

As the UN COP22 climate talks enter the second week in Marrakesh, 400 civil society organisations, from over 60 countries, are calling on world leaders to put an immediate halt to new fossil fuel development and pursue a rapid transition to renewable energy.

It is a call made all the more urgent with the prospect of climate denier, Donald Trump, in the White House from early next year.

Trump has vowed to rip up the Paris agreement, which was finalized a year ago to address the climate crisis.

In an historic agreement in Paris, countries committed to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5?C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”

 A year later, in what is regarded by diplomats as being in record time, the Paris Agreement has entered into force. The civil society groups are now calling for countries that have ratified the agreement to fulfill the commitments made within it.

We cannot delay. A recent analysis by Oil Change International, entitled the Sky’s Limit, has shown that the carbon embedded in existing fossil fuel production, if allowed to run its course, would take us beyond the globally agreed goals of limiting warming to well below 2C and pursuing efforts to limit to 1.5C.

The analysis shows that the global carbon budgets associated with either temperature limit will be exhausted with current fossil fuel projects, and in fact some currently-operating fossil fuel projects will need to be retired early in order to have appropriately high chances of staying below even the 2C limit, let alone 1.5C.

With this new analysis it is clear that to live up to the goals set forth by the Paris Agreement and to safeguard our climate for our grandchildren, fossil fuel production must enter a managed decline immediately. At the same time the uptake of renewable energy must be radically increased to ensure a just and fast transition.

Greg Muttitt, the author of the Sky’s Limit report, who spoke at a press conference in Marrakesh this morning, said: “Our research has demonstrated that if the world is going to live up to the Paris Agreement, there is no room in the atmosphere for any new fossil fuel development.”

Muttit added: “The only way to avoid either dangerous climate change, or an abrupt loss of jobs and investment, is to begin a managed decline of fossil fuel production and a just transition to clean energy. This letter shows the massive global movement that has woken up to this reality. World leaders would be wise to heed this call.”

The ask from civil society is a simple one. It is time to stop digging. We should have no additional fossil fuel development, no exploration for new fossil fuels, and no expansion of fossil fuel projects. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Yesterday, thousands of people marched through the centre of Marrakesh under a bright blue African sun with this same message: the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and for climate justice now.