Fossil Fuels

The primary cause of our climate system spiralling out of control is fossil fuels, which release significant quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) throughout their lifecycles, from extraction at coal mines and oil and gas wells through to combustion in our homes, industries and vehicles.

The problem

Today, fossil fuels supply about 80 per cent of the world’s energy and rapid reductions are required to keep global heating within safe limits. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that “the level of greenhouse gas emission reductions this decade largely determine whether warming can be limited to 1.5°C or 2°C”, further noting that “CO2 emissions from existing fossil fuel infrastructure without additional abatement would exceed the remaining carbon budget for 1.5°C.”

Despite this, it wasn’t until CoP28 in 2023 that the UNFCCC finally called on Parties to contribute to “Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.” Governments around the world are planning to produce more than twice the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C – and almost three times in 2040.

We need a global Fossil Fuel Treaty.

To safeguard our climate system, the countries of the world must come together to end the expansion of new fossil fuel production and to phase out existing fossil fuel production, coupled with a rapid rollout of renewable energy.

  • 75 %

    is the proportion of historical CO2 emissions due to the fossil fuel industry since the Industrial Revolution

  • 1 in 5

    deaths are due to air pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels globally, every year

  • $7

    trillion in subsidies was the amount of money sunk into the fossil fuel industry during 2022 alone

Moving forward

EIA is campaigning to secure a global Fossil Fuel Treaty, based on the following essential elements:

Transparency and accountability. Nations should ensure transparency and accountability by undertaking periodic reporting and establishing a global registry of fossil fuels

Commitments and transition. Nations should commit to cease the expansion of new fossil fuel production, including exploration and investments in infrastructure, and undertake a managed phase-out of existing fossil fuel production within specified timeframes

Technical and financial assistance. Nations should ensure that no country or community is left behind, providing technical and financial assistance to developing countries to promote a just and fair transition.

A Fossil Fuel Treaty would provide a global governance framework for regulating fossil fuel production with supply-side measures – similar to the approach taken by the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, widely considered to be the most successful multilateral environmental agreement in the world.

EIA is partnering with thousands of civil society organisations within the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative and with Beyond Fossil Fuels to make the phase-out of fossil fuels a reality.