14 Small Island Nations Consider Phasing Out Fossil Fuels

REUTERS/US Pacific Fleet via social media/Handout via Reuters

Fourteen small island nations will consider their own climate treaty to phase out fossil fuel use by 2030 and put strict limits on coal.

The group of island nations held a summit at the Marshall Islands for the Pacific Islands Development Forum Tuesday and Wednesday. Island leaders discussed green energy targets and a ban on new coal mines or the expansion of existing ones, according to The Guardian. It would also end all subsidies for fossil fuels.

The proposed treaty, written by environmental groups that are part of the Pacific Island Climate Action Network (PICAN), will go through the ringer of consultations and reviews in the next several months before submitting the final draft next year.

“Pacific island leaders are among the most proactive in the world on global warming because their countries are bearing the brunt of climate changes,” Joeteshna Gurdayal Zenos, head of the Greenpeace-affiliated Pacific Net, told The Guardian.

The islands’ treaty also comes after the Paris global warming summit plan to try and keep global temperatures from going above 1.5 degrees Celsius, a mark some scientists say is a “tipping point” for the planet. The island nations claim this treaty could send a strong signal to the rest of the world’s fossil fuel users.

“Such a treaty, when implemented in collaboration with PIDF and civil society, would send a powerful signal to markets, governments and civil society around the world that the end of fossil fuels is near,” reads a report on the proposed treaty.

“As there is currently no treaty that bans or phases out fossil fuels, the Treaty would set a pioneering example to the rest of the world,” it continues.

Claiming the end of fossil fuels “is near” may be a bit of a stretch, though. Data from The World Bank shows that as of 2013, more than 80 percent of the world’s energy was from fossil fuels.

The island nations see global warming as a threat to their habitat due to rising sea levels. However, a study published in the journal  and re-published by The Guardian in May casts doubt on humanity being the only responsible party.

“These trade winds have basically pushed water up into the western Pacific and have driven these exceptionally high rates of [sea-level rise] in the Solomons,” Dr. Simon Albert, author of the study, told The Guardian. “The trade winds are partly a natural cycle but also the recent intensification is related to atmospheric warming.”

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