Coalition calling for a global treaty to end the use of fossil fuels led by Bristol ethical bank Triodos

November 17, 2023

Triodos, the ethical bank with its UK headquarters in Bristol, has become the first in its sector to join a global campaign urging European governments and policymakers to phase out the use of fossil fuels.

The bank, which was founded in The Netherlands in 1980 and has since become a global front runner in sustainable lending and investment, is leading a group of organisations calling for a new Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to meet global climate targets.

In a public letter, the broad coalition is calling for a legally binding, international treaty to be signed at the upcoming COP28, which starts in Dubai on 30 November.

Triodos, which has set itself the ambitious target of being net-zero by 2035 with all its loans and investments and in its own operations, is also urging the other financial institutions to join the global initiative to help phase out the use of coal, oil, and gas – the primary drivers of the accelerating climate crisis.

It aims to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement by fostering international cooperation to accelerate a transition to clean energy for everyone, end the expansion of coal, oil and gas, and phase out existing production.

The organisations behind the treaty believe this needs to be done in a manner that is both fast and fair – so that no worker, community or country is left behind and in keeping with what science shows is needed to address the climate crisis.

They point out that while the Paris Agreement set a crucial global climate target, many governments continue to approve new coal, oil and gas projects – even though burning the world’s current fossil fuel reserves would result in seven times more emissions than what is compatible with keeping warming below 1.5ºC

Last week the UNEP Production Gap Report 2023 warned that fossil fuel extraction plans are undermining the world’s chances of meeting our global climate targets. The report revealed that, despite their climate pledges, governments still plan to produce around 110% more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C.

Triodos Bank CEO Jeroen Rijpkema said: “The science is clear that ending new exploration and expansion and phasing-out fossil fuel production is critical over the next decade to keep the world in line with global climate goals and to avoid catastrophic climate disruption. What we do today will decide the emissions of tomorrow.”

According to Triodos Bank, the finance sector has a key role to play. Since the Paris Agreement was signed the world’s banks have pumped $5.5trillion into fossil fuels.

Mr Rijpkema added: “If the financial sector is serious about its sustainable commitments, it should support the treaty initiative.

“A treaty will help create a steady business climate with long-term perspective and a level playing field, which is in the interest of every business and financial institution.”

In supporting the fossil fuel treaty, Triodos Bank is joining eight nation-states, more than 3,000 scientists and academics, 101 Nobel laureates, hundreds of health professionals, thousands of religious institutions, a growing number of indigenous organisations and youth activists, almost 100 cities and subnational governments, 600-plus parliamentarians across the world, and an increasing number of businesses.

All are calling for a treaty to phase out fossil fuels and fast track a fair energy transition.

The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty initiative director of major partnerships Ali Sheridan welcomed Triodos Bank’s support in becoming the first bank to back the call for a treaty.

“The proposal seeks to ensure that governments finally assume their climate responsibilities and implement a just transition away from fossil fuel production, based on cooperation and equity,” she said.

“Businesses can play a leading role in building a fair and sustainable future, but it is imperative this is done in a credible way that ensures no one is left behind and that secures a fossil free future. Financial institutions in particular have a vital role to play in shifting away from enabling dangerous fossil fuel production towards actively supporting cleaner and fairer energy sources.

“The era of fossil fuels is coming to an end. By supporting the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, businesses can play a vital role in securing the international and multi stakeholder approach needed to deliver fossil fuel phase out and secure a safe future for all.

“Triodos Bank’s support for the initiative and wider climate leadership is to be commended. We urge other companies to join us in building a fossil fuel free world.”

Triodos has banking activities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Germany as well as the UK, where it has operated for nearly 30 years and now employs around 200 staff in Bristol, London and Edinburgh.

It is a co-founder of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, a network of 60 sustainable banks. Earlier this year it was named ‘best ethical financial provider’ category at the British Bank Awards for a second year in a row.

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