ASTORIA – Council Member Costa Constantinides on October 29 introduced a resolution in support of a global Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, which would commit the world’s nations to a more stable future. If passed, the Big Apple would become the largest city to support the pact and lead local U.S. governments’ fight against climate change.
“Ending our dependence on dirty fossil fuels is the first real step in winning the fight against climate change,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Today we’re telling the world that, despite the anti-science message the White House has sent for the last four years, the United States is once again ready to lead the fight against climate change.”
“By introducing a resolution in support of a global Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, New York City is sending a strong message to governments around the world that now is the time for international cooperation to end the expansion of oil, gas and coal and fast track a fair global energy transition. No city, state, country or corporation can do this alone and we cannot rely on markets to do this quickly or fairly. This builds on New York’s track record of adopting strong municipal policies to cut carbon pollution including the executive order signed in February to block new fossil fuel infrastructure,” said Tzeporah Berman, Chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and International Campaign Director at Stand.Earth.
“If the COVID-19 crisis has taught us nothing else, it’s that our city’s ability to thrive and prosper depends on looking at the science to intelligently plan for our future, rather than reacting after a crisis has already had a devastating impact on our communities,” said Alisa Tippie, Climate Lead for One Queens Indivisible.
"My family lost everything to Sandy, which was a climate disaster. The world needs to end fossil fuel use. World cities like New York should press for international action. We're running out of time and low income communities and communities of color will get hurt the worst if the world's governments fail to slash fossil fuel use," said Rachel Rivera, a Sandy survivor and member of New York Communities for Change.
The movement for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty calls for a global agreement to wean nations off of traditional energy sources which drive pollution and accelerate climate change. Intended to run in tandem with the historic 2015 Paris Climate Accord, this pact is essential to holding the global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Scientists warn that any rise higher than that will have catastrophic effects on sea level, agriculture, and air quality in just a few years.
That could effectively mean the end of New York, a coastal city that’s seen unprecedented sea level rise and extreme heat in recent years. The resolution announced on October 29 comes on the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which killed dozens of New Yorkers. Sadly that storm is considered the opening act for worse effects to come.
Fossil fuels account for 80% of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. Nothing short of government divestment from the industry and incentives for renewable energy will reverse this crisis. A Bloomberg investigation recently revealed ExxonMobil internally predicted a 17% spike in carbon emissions by 2025 — bucking industry efforts to scale back on pollution. This only underscores the need for global action, policies, and investments to replace the industry with renewable sources.
Vancouver earlier this month became the first city to pass a resolution in support of the treaty.
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.
More information about the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is available online: https://fossilfueltreaty.org.