Vanuatu, 17 March 2022 – Today, Pacific Island governments committed to create a “Fossil Fuel Free Pacific” and called for all countries to join them in managing a global, equitable, and unqualified phase out of coal, oil and gas.
This commitment comes after the Vanuatu and Tuvalu hosted the 2nd Pacific Ministerial Dialogue on Pathways for the Global Just Transition from Fossil Fuels in Port-Vila, Vanuatu, during a state of emergency after the country was hit by two severe cyclones and an earthquake in 48 hours.
At the close of the three-day meeting, Ministers and officials from a block of six Pacific countries – Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Tonga, Fiji, Niue, and the Solomon Islands – agreed on an outcome resolution, named the “Port Vila Call for a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific” that calls for action from Pacific and global leaders to:
- Adopt a Pacific Island Forum Leaders Declaration for a just transition to a “Fossil Fuel Free Pacific” as soon as possible
- Spearhead the global phase out of coal, oil and gas production in line with global temperature goal of below 1.5ºC, including at the UN Secretary General’s climate summit in September, at COP28, and beyond
- Join the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance and urge major oil and gas producers to join
- Call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and lead the creation of a global alliance to negotiate a new Treaty to govern the end to fossil fuel expansion, equitable phase out of fossil fuels, and a global just transition.
- Redouble efforts to reaffirm, strengthen and codify legal obligations with respect to the global phase out of fossil fuels, including through calling for all nations to support the adoption of the Pacific’s UN General Assembly Resolution seeking an advisory opinion on climate change from the International Court of Justice
- Avoid terminology such as “unabated” or “inefficient” that creates loopholes for fossil fuel producers and polluters.
Pacific Island nations bear almost no historical responsibility for the climate crisis, yet are acutely vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather as climate impacts increase in frequency and severity. The joint call for an equitable global phase-out of fossil fuels and just transition cements the Pacific governments’ ongoing leadership for limiting warming to 1.5ºC. This policy leadership has been displayed through Pacific governments leading recent international initiatives including the push for an advisory opinion on climate change from the International Court of Justice, the development of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and Tuvalu’s recent joining of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance as a core member.
Scientific evidence shows that committed emissions from existing fossil fuel energy infrastructure jeopardizes the 1.5°C goal, and nearly half of existing fossil fuel production sites must be shut down early if global heating is to be limited to 1.5ºC. To date, current international climate change frameworks have not constrained fossil fuel extraction at a rate consistent with the global temperature goal, and a liveable future hangs in the balance.
Lavetanalagi Seru, Regional Policy Coordinator at Pacific Islands Climate Action Network, said: “Every second wasted on climate inaction and clinging to fossil fuels puts lives, homes, livelihoods, cultures, and ecosystems in jeopardy. But as a region, our people remain resilient. As Pacific leaders shoulder the burden of climate leadership, the “Port Vila Call for a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific” is a reminder that despite the doom and gloom, another world is possible, a fossil-fuel free world, that is just, equitable, and sustainable. The phaseout of fossil fuels is not only a challenge, but an opportunity to promote economic development and innovation in the Pacific region. This Ministerial Dialogue has been an opportunity for the Pacific to envision what a just transition means in a Pacific Island context, whilst calling for greater and stronger ambition.
Romain Ioualalen, Global Policy lead at Oil Change International, said: “Faced with devastating climate impacts resulting from the world’s continued addiction to fossil fuels, Pacific governments have once again demonstrated what true leadership looks like. The contrast between the US and other rich countries approving new oil and gas fields in clear defiance of science, and the commitment to build a prosperous and resilient Fossil Fuel Free Pacific could not be more obvious and higlights the complete disregard the fossil fuel industry and its enablers have for people and communities most affected by the climate crisis. Countries must urgently heed the call for an immediate end to fossil fuel expansion that is emanating from the Pacific. We look forward to Pacific countries continuing to be vocal champions for a just and equitable phase-out of fossil fuels on the global stage, including at COP28 later this year”.
Brianna Fruean, Samoan climate justice activist, said: “International climate negotiations are failing us. This dialogue of Pacific Ministers is stepping outside of the box and acknowledging that we must try new ways to save ourselves – and that is going to require a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. While the guilty continue to reap profit off the expansion of fossil fuels behind our backs, the meeting is bringing renewed energy to Pacific leadership that will not just echo across our islands but drive action with our allies globally.”
Tzeporah Berman, Chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, said: “Today Pacific Island nations have once again led to redefine climate leadership by challenging the root cause of the climate crisis oil, gas and coal. They have had the courage to confront the lies of the fossil fuel industry and challenge the ruse of climate action that includes new fossil fuel projects. This is as a historic meeting that will have have far reaching consequences.”
- Dylan Kava, Pacific Islands Climate Action Network: dylan.kava[at]gmail.com (VUT / GMT+11)
- Nicole Rodel, Oil Change International: nicole[at]priceofoil.org (SAST / GMT+2)
- Becca Galvez, Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative: becca[at]fossilfueltreaty.org (VUT / GMT+11)
- Ministers present at the 2nd Pacific Ministerial Dialogue on Pathways for the Global Just Transition from Fossil Fuels have released a press release with quotes. Interested media can request interviews or the full document from the media contacts.