Nobel Laureates’ call to phase out fossil fuels highlights importance of local action on climate change

Wednesday April 21, 2021

SAFE Cities movement part of growing trend of communities using regulatory powers to fight fossil fuel industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As world leaders prepare to come together for U.S. President Joe Biden’s Earth Day Summit, more than 100 Nobel Laureates have released a statement calling for international cooperation to keep fossil fuels in the ground. 

Specifically, the Nobel Laureates called for support for three of the tenets outlined in the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty:

  • End new expansion of oil, gas and coal production in line with the best available science as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and United Nations Environment Program; 
  • Phase out existing production of oil, gas and coal in a manner that is fair and equitable, taking into account the responsibilities of countries for climate change and their respective dependency on fossil fuels, and capacity to transition; and 
  • Invest in a transformational plan to ensure 100% access to renewable energy globally, support dependent economies to diversify away from fossil fuels, and enable people and communities across the globe to flourish through a global just transition.

In response to the announcement, Stand.earth’s SAFE Cities movement hopes to draw attention to how the call to phase out fossil fuels globally highlights the importance of local action on climate change, including the growing trend of communities across the U.S. and Canada using their regulatory power to restrict the growth of the fossil fuel industry in their cities, counties, provinces, and states.

Stand.earth’s SAFE Cities campaign is based on the same principles as the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, including supporting the economic diversification of communities through their transitions away from fossil fuels. 

“Across the U.S. and Canada, there’s a growing trend of communities standing up to the fossil fuel industry by using land use and regulatory powers to require all-electric buildings and transportation, stop the expansion of methane gas infrastructure to new neighborhoods and buildings, and prevent the broader fossil fuel industry from building new extraction, transport, and refining infrastructure, said Matt Krogh, SAFE Cities Campaign Director at Stand.earth. “Alongside the Nobel Laureates, SAFE Cities supports the call for international cooperation, and we work with concerned citizens and elected leaders across North America who are poised to take action locally. All three principles outlined in this letter can be acted on by local governments. This movement of citizens and local governments taking action to restrict the growth of the fossil fuel industry helps change the narrative and supports real action at the national level.”

Here’s who’s leading the way in the SAFE Cities movement:

  • Vancouver, British Columbia: In 2019, the City passed ambitious updates to its building code aimed at ensuring all new buildings would be low or zero emissions, and in 2020 they announced plans to retrofit existing buildings to reduce the gas used in heating and cooling. 
  • Los Angeles, California: In 2021, LA is poised to ban oil and gas extraction in the city limits, and to endorse the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • New York, New York: In 2019, New York passed a nation-leading policy to decarbonize existing buildings.
  • Petaluma, California: In 2021, Petaluma passed the nation’s apparent first ban on new filling stations.
  • South Portland, Maine: In 2014, the South Portland City Council passed a policy to block transport of tar sands oil through their community.
  • Whatcom County, Washington: In 2016, the Whatcom County Council passed a temporary moratorium on all new unrefined fossil fuel export facilities, and is working to make these protections permanent.
  • Portland, Oregon: In 2016, the Portland City Council became the first major municipality to ban bulk storage of fossil fuels, effectively stopping oil trains from running through the city.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: In 2017, the Baltimore City Council passed a land use ordinance to prevent the build out of any new oil train facilities in the city, and is considering legislation to ban new gas stations in the city.
  • Berkeley, California: In 2019, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to adopt a “first in the nation” ordinance that prohibits gas in virtually all new construction.
  • Culver City, California: In 2020, the Culver City Council took the first necessary steps to phase out oil extraction in the city’s portion of an urban oil field — the largest in the nation.

###

Media contact: Matt Krogh, U.S. Oil & Gas Campaigns Director, matt@stand.earth, +1 360 820 2938 (Pacific Time)