A mining excavator Kirill Kikhmar/Getty Images

Climate Leadership Means Ending Fossil-Fuel Production

A fossil-fuel-free economy can happen either by design or by default. If it is built by design, it can account for issues such as human rights and equity for workers; but if it evolves by default, it could cause economic disruptions and drive political polarization for years, or even decades, to come.

VANCOUVER/BERLIN – The end of the fossil-fuel era is on the horizon. With renewables like solar and wind consistently outperforming expectations, growth in electric vehicles far exceeding projections, and governments worldwide acknowledging the urgency of tackling climate change, the writing is on the wall.

And yet somehow, the question central to it all is not being seriously addressed: what is the plan for weaning ourselves off oil, coal, and gas?

That question is becoming increasingly urgent, because governments around the world, from Argentina to Canada to Norway, are supporting plans to continue producing fossil fuels and explore for more. These governments claim that new fossil-fuel projects are consistent with their commitments under the Paris climate agreement, despite the fact that burning even the fossil fuels in already-existing reserves would push global temperatures higher than 2°C above pre-industrial levels – and thus far beyond the threshold established in that accord. It is a startling display of cognitive dissonance.

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