Kolkata Becomes First Indian City To Back Treaty To Phase Out Fossil Fuels

The Indian city joins Paris, London and Los Angeles in calling for an end to fossil fuels.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>(Source: Unsplash)</p></div>
(Source: Unsplash)

The Indian city of Kolkata has endorsed a treaty that aims to phase out fossil fuels in an equitable manner. It is the first Indian city, and only the third Asian city, to do so.

It joins 64 other cities and subnational governments across the world, including the likes of Paris, London, Sydney and Los Angeles, that have endorsed the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, according to a statement by the municipal corporation.

The initiative is a call to action for an international mechanism to manage a fast and fair transition away from coal, oil and gas. It aims to emulate previous non-proliferation treaties, such as the one to prevent the use of nuclear weapons, and the World Health Organization's framework for tobacco control. Demand for such a treaty from civil society, health and environment experts has been growing rapidly.

"Calling for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is another feather in the cap for Kolkata," City Mayor Firhad Hakim said in a statement. "It is extremely important to make sure that the city population remains well prepared to minimise the catastrophic future effects of climate change."

"In this direction we, with support from the state government, have been pushing several actions like running the city's commercial vehicles on non-fossil energy sources from 2030, particularly promoting electric vehicles in a major way, which will significantly reduce the city's carbon footprint," Hakim said.

Kolkata and West Bengal are both heavily dependent on India's coal economy. Over 80% of the city's power is based on coal, whereas the state has 11% of the country's total coal reserves.

"Climate leadership from climate-vulnerable cities is essential to spur national governments to action," said Harjeet Singh, global engagement director for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative.

"However, from a global perspective, we must not forget that it is the countries of the North, historically responsible for the climate crisis, that must act first to phase out oil, gas and coal," Singh said.

Earlier today, the WHO and 200 other health-focused organisations published an unprecedented call for a global fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty. They urged governments to develop and implement legally binding plans to end new fossil fuel capacity addition and phase out existing use in a fair, equitable and just transition.

“The modern addiction to fossil fuels is not just an act of environmental vandalism,” WHO President Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "From the health perspective, it is an act of self-sabotage."

The treaty to end fossil fuels has also earned endorsements from prominent names like the 14th Dalai Lama, actor Emma Watson, Bangladesh's social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus and Indian social worker Kailash Satyarthi, among others.

It is backed by over 100 Nobel laureates, 400 parliamentarians and over 1,500 civil society organisations.

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