Written by: Kimberly White 

The City of Austin has called for a global phase-out of fossil fuels and a just transition to renewable energy. 

Citing the health and safety risks of fossil fuel expansion, the Texas capital formally endorsed the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty proposal, becoming the first capital of a major oil-producing region to urge world leaders to negotiate a framework to manage a just transition away from fossil fuels.

Hundreds of Austin’s citizens called their local council members to vote for the endorsement of the treaty. Leaders in Austin were also supported by a global network of 7,300 Treaty supporters who signed a petition presented at the Council meeting. 

The resolution to support the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty proposal was sponsored by Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes and co-sponsored by Councilmembers José “Chito” Vela, José Velásquez, Zohaib “Zo” Qadri, and Leslie Pool.

“Cities have a responsibility to address and mitigate the environmental, social, and economic harms associated with climate change,” said Vanessa Fuentes, Austin Council Member behind the resolution. “The City of Austin proudly supports the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and joins the call for a global effort to accelerate a just transition to clean energy for all.”

The largest oil-producing state in the United States, Texas has the most crude oil refineries and accounts for roughly 42 percent of the nation’s crude oil production. According to the EIA, the state’s petroleum refineries process nearly six million barrels of crude oil per day, one-third of the United States’ total refining capacity. Texas has made the United States the largest global oil producer. 

“We’re really proud that Austin City Council has formally recommended our federal government embrace negotiations for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty,” said Texas Campaign for the Environment’s Temo Toren. “We need to organize our communities to continue pressuring elected leaders to join the global effort to reduce emissions. This is especially important in light of the recent failures of our state government in Texas where lawmakers didn’t fix our grid, fought against renewable energies, and gave bailouts to fossil fuel corporations.”

The City of Austin’s resolution calls for strong climate leadership from the U.S. Federal Government, urging the government to support a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and develop and enact a federal Climate Emergency Plan and Declaration. 

The U.S. Government has come under fire recently for greenlighting a myriad of controversial, environmentally devastating projects, including the Willow oil drilling project in Alaska, oil and gas export terminals in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. As a result, U.S. oil production is anticipated to break records in 2023 and 2024, further fueling climate catastrophe. 

Throughout the years, the United States has been one of the top climate offenders. Historically, the nation has emitted more carbon dioxide than any other country. The United States is responsible for more than a quarter of all carbon dioxide emitted since the 1750s. 

As the world’s second-largest emitter, it is critical that the U.S. federal government take decisive action on the climate crisis now and shift away from the harmful, environmentally destructive business-as-usual. 

The City of Austin’s endorsement of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is a bold move for the Texas capital and sends a clear message: the time to end the fossil fuel era is now. 

“The call for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is coming from every continent, and now Austin has shown incredible leadership in making the first endorsement from the biggest oil and gas producing state in the U.S.,” said Anne Pernick, Senior Advisor to Stand.earth’s SAFE Cities campaign, a movement of neighbors, local groups, and local government leaders working to protect their communities from fossil fuels. “The fast-growing movement calling for a just transition to clean energy is powerful. Subnational and local governments like Austin are making it clear: We are moving forward with local policies to get off fossil fuels, and we need to support international action for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.”