SACRAMENTO – Declaring that California has “a moral responsibility to act” and “climate leaders can no longer explore for and exploit new fossil fuels,” a group of Nobel Peace Laureates today urged Governor Jerry Brown to freeze new fossil fuel drilling and develop a plan to transition California “away from oil and gas production.”
In a letter to the California Governor, the Laureates emphasized the fact that, despite Governor Brown’s strong language to raise the alarm on the threat of climate change, California continues to drill wells and engage in destructive fossil fuel extraction. Over the past seven years, the Brown administration has authorized 20,000 new permits for drilling, including wells in sensitive offshore sites along the California coast.
“Climate leadership is being redefined, and we strongly believe you, Governor Brown, can be among those at the vanguard,” the letter states. “We know the vast majority of fossil fuels must be kept in the ground. Climate leaders can no longer explore for and exploit new fossil fuels, and climate leaders must have a plan to phase-out production by no later than mid-century. This transition will be challenging, but by starting now, you have the opportunity to work together with workers dependent on fossil fuel production to ensure they have the agency and support to build livelihoods for themselves in a post-carbon economy.”
In their letter, the Nobel Laureates express support for Brown’s Last Chance, a campaign endorsed by over 800 health, social justice, climate, and environmental groups calling on Brown to take bold action to freeze new fossil fuel drilling and protect communities from drilling in sensitive areas before the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in September. Brown is hosting the summit in San Francisco, and it’s expected to attract thousands of people from all over the world – including many who plan to protest his oil and gas policies at the summit.
Signatories to the letter include: Mairead Maguire (Northern Ireland), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (Guatemala), Jody Williams (U.S.A), Shirin Ebadi (Iran), Leymah Gbowee (Liberia) and Tawakkol Karman (Yemen).
The text of the letter is below:
Dear Governor Brown,
Thank you for your commitment to action on climate change. As you know, the devastating impacts of global warming are already ravaging the lives and livelihoods of many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. Your home state has been the epicenter of devastating wildfires and mudslides, and you have been emphatic about the role of fossil fuels in this man-made crisis.
We especially value your aspirations for bold and unprecedented action, as you have said, “Let’s lead the whole world to realize this is not your normal political challenge. This is much bigger. This is life itself. It requires courage and imagination.”
It is in this spirit that we call on you to become the first major fossil fuel producer to begin a managed and just transition off oil and gas production, in turn protecting the climate, citizens on the frontlines of extraction, and setting a new direction for global climate action.
California is one of the world’s largest economies, it is the wealthiest major oil producing economy in the world after Norway, and it has a government and population that have been steadfast in their support for urgent and ambitious action. The state’s policies on clean energy and vehicle efficiency and electrification for example have been groundbreaking. But, this is only half of the equation.
Without commensurate action to phase-out fossil fuel production, the struggle for a safer climate future will only become more challenging. Rich oil, gas, and coal producers have a moral responsibility to act. If California, or Norway, or Canada cannot embrace an ambitious path away from fossil fuel production, how can we expect others to?
Climate leadership is being redefined, and we strongly believe you, Governor Brown, can be among those at the vanguard. We know the vast majority of fossil fuels must be kept in the ground. Climate leaders can no longer explore for and exploit new fossil fuels, and climate leaders must have a plan to phase-out production by no later than mid-century.
This transition will be challenging, but by starting now, you have the opportunity to work together with workers dependent on fossil fuel production to ensure they have the agency and support to build livelihoods for themselves in a post-carbon economy.
As Nobel Peace Laureates, we believe that climate change is among the biggest threats to a peaceful future. We celebrate the perseverance and strength of communities in California and around the world who are on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction projects and who continue to fight for their rights to a healthy environment and a safe climate. And we celebrate the women who are driving this change. For meaningful and sustainable solutions to the climate crisis, it is critical that gender equality, human rights, and the rights of indigenous people are central to all climate action.
As decision-makers, community members, and leaders, women are driving this change and it is imperative that this leadership role is embraced at all levels.
We would also like to share our support for, and draw your attention to the Lofoten Declaration, a declaration supported by voices from across the globe calling on wealthy fossil fuel producers to chart a course away from this dependency. Similar calls are echoed in a powerful letter recently sent directly to you by over 750 civil society organizations from all corners of the world.
As you prepare to host the Global Climate Action Summit in September, we look forward to your “courage and imagination” in setting new precedents for the coming critical years of climate action.
Mairead Maguire, Northern Ireland, 1976
Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Guatemala, 1992
Jody Williams, U.S.A., 1997
Shirin Ebadi, Iran, 2003
Leymah Gbowee, Liberia, 2011
Tawakkol Karman, Yemen, 2011