10 November 2022 – In the midst of the UN climate talks, Belém became the first Brazilian city and the first Amazonian city to endorse the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, an international initiative aimed at putting an end to fossil fuel production, the main cause of the climate crisis.
In its “Declaration of Belém in favor of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty”, the city recognizes the need for a new complementary mechanism to the Paris Agreement, which fails to mention coal, oil and gas. The city also urges other Amazonian local governments as well as the Brazilian government to support the Fossil Fuel Treaty proposal in order to “establish the Amazon region as a fossil fuel non-proliferation zone.”
Belém’s endorsement comes just days after the Prime Minister of Tuvalu issued a formal call at COP27 for nation-states to join them and Vanuatu in developing a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. The proposal has gained significant support in recent months including from the World Health Organization, the Vatican and the European Parliament.
Edmilson Rodrigues, mayor of the “Amazonian metropolis” which is already facing the impacts of the climate crisis, welcomes the endorsement: “As Amazonian citizens, we are aware that it is impossible to achieve social justice whilst the forest is being destroyed. Therefore, our project for a democratic, dignified and joyful future depends on pleading for ecological balance and the rights of nature. Thus, as a Mayor of a metropolis encrusted in the Amazon forest, in support of this international movement, I sign the Declaration in favor of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
This endorsement marks a new milestone for the Fossil Fuel Treaty campaign and its Amazonian partners, in particular the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River (COICA), who seek to protect this invaluable region. For decades the Amazon has been treated as a sacrifice zone to exploit resources, including fossil fuels, creating devastating local impacts and the systematic dispossession of Indigenous peoples’ territories, economies, culture and health. Gregorio Mirabal, President of COICA and a member of the Fossil Fuel Treaty Steering Committee warns: “If the Amazon rainforest disappears, humanity disappears.”
A new report launched at the opening of COP27 reveals that 66% of the Amazon is subject to external pressures such as deforestation, mining and oil extraction. The Amazon is at a tipping point where large swaths of the tropical rainforest are transitioning into savanna landscapes, including in the Brazilian Amazon. The region’s inhabitants and land defenders have been the biggest victims of ecocide policies of far right President Jair Bolsonaro. Lula’s pledge to put forest protection at the heart of his economic plans and policies represents hope.
Seble Samuel, Cities Lead for the Fossil Fuel Treaty campaign, said : “As a collective humanity, our very existence, our every breath, depends on the Amazon. We welcome Belém’s courage in calling for an end to the fossil fuel era and we honor the land defenders before them that have lost their lives in this struggle. Our hope is that Lula’s incoming leadership will mark a new era for Amazonia, where deforestation and fossil fuels are halted and the biodiverse region can thrive.”
Alex Rafalowicz, Director of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, said: “It is time to reverse the logic and consider the Amazon basin as a source of life to be protected and not exploited. Making the Amazon the world’s first fossil fuel non-proliferation zone would mean an agreement between indigenous nations and countries to stop new extraction sites, equitably reduce fossil fuel production and increase resources for a just transition to a sustainable Amazonian and global economy. For such an Amazonian fossil fuel non-proliferation zone to become real, we need rich countries, those most responsible for the climate crisis and destruction of this invaluable region, to finally act.”