No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure, Just Transition Now
We the undersigned organizations and their members in the United States and Canada call on leaders of the First Nations peoples of Canada and Native Americans of the U.S., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, President Donald Trump of the United States, the premiers of Canadian provinces, governors of U.S. states, city mayors, and other elected officials, and regulatory agencies to stand up for climate solutions by putting an end to the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure in our cities, our coastal ports, and communities and beginning the just transition to the new clean economy now.
The scientific community, former President Obama and other political and religious leaders have told us very clearly that we have arrived at a critical moment in human history when we either act now or we doom present and future generations to an escalating planetary crisis of catastrophic climate change. They tell us we must leave 80 percent of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground, and leave all unproven reserves untouched. Despite the growing scientific alarm, too many of our elected officials are continuing with business as usual, condoning the expansion of this deadly fossil fuel industry and exacerbating a crisis that the Pentagon has called a “threat multiplier” that could exacerbate terrorism.
Our communities are assaulted every day with ever-increasing volumes of explosive oil and gas cargo close to our homes, our schools and our places of worship; with coal dust clouding our air as mile-long trains cut through our towns; with unaccountable corporations pushing oil and gas pipelines across our land; and with toxic emissions increasing rates of asthma among our children and threatening our elderly when this fossil fuel is burned. The fossil fuel export terminals and pipelines often traverse geologically active areas and earthquake subduction zones, exposing nearby communities to the risk of calamitous explosions and toxic spills should a major quake take place. At the point of extraction, and at every step of the way to our port cities, too often Native American and First Nations treaty rights are being violated in order to facilitate the extraction, transport, storage and export of this dangerous cargo. Too often, it is the poorest that bear the brunt of this pollution. Our water is threatened by regular spills of oil and tar sands, and by toxic mercury emitted when these fossil fuels are burned. Our fish are dying in rivers overheated by rising temperatures caused by the burning of fossil fuels. And our forests, once a place of refuge for wildlife in the heat, are increasingly going up in flames or succumbing to pests due to increasing temperatures. The oceans are becoming too acidic to support critical links in the food chain.
This destruction is as unnecessary as it is unconscionable. Solutions are available now. There are no insurmountable economic or technological obstacles to a clean energy transition. Our cities are demonstrating the promise of this transition every day, building healthier communities, better buildings, and more efficient and affordable transportation systems while lowering emissions. We are taking our money and power back and investing them in our communities. We can do this. But there’s a reason that we are not doing it fast enough now, a reason that we continue to make the problem worse even as we prove the promise of solutions: the entrenched power of the fossil fuel industry, and their unconscionable campaign of deception that protects that power.
We now know that the fossil fuel industry has been covering up the devastating truth about climate change for almost four decades. Recent reports reveal that Exxon knew as early as the 1970s that climate change would threaten all of us, yet chose to confuse and mislead the public, putting its profits ahead of the planet. The delays caused by these actions by the fossil fuel industry leave us with no time to lose. We must act immediately and decisively. Implementing solutions will take time, but we must stop investing in the problem right away.
New fossil fuel infrastructure locks us into a deadly climate future, making the problem not just worse but insoluble. The transition from present emission levels to safe levels will take decades, but it begins with a simple and firm commitment today: we must stop making it worse with large new capital investments that increase emissions. We don’t have time or money to waste going backwards.
In order to begin to act on climate change, we support and urge you to align your jurisdiction’s policy to these two vital commitments:
1) We must stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure in order to leave at least 80% of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground;
2) We must invest in a “just transition” to a clean economy – a transition that delivers shared prosperity, good, family-supporting jobs, and support for people and communities who bear the brunt of climate impacts and economic dislocation.
It is imperative that the United States and Canada does its share to meet these two commitments.
 See “Pentagon Report: U.S. Military Considers Climate Change a ‘Threat Multiplier’ That Could Exacerbate Terrorism” http://www.newsweek.com/pentagon-report-us-military-considers-climate-change-immediate-threat-could-277155
 “Exxon’s Own Research Confirmed Fossil Fuels’ Role in Global Warming Decades Ago.” See: http://insideclimatenews.org/news/15092015/Exxons-own-research-confirmed-fossil-fuels-role-in-global-warming
 See “Earth’s Most Famous Climate Scientist Issues Bombshell Sea Level Warning”
Bill Moyer, Backbone Campaign
Jayna Gieber, People of the Heart