We need a No Fossil Fuel ClauseJeremy Greze
Our planet is at a pivotal moment. Record-breaking heat levels and relentless CO2 concentration growth underscore the urgency of action. As UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, frequently emphasizes, the need to act is more pressing than ever.
Institutions like the IEA in 2021 and the IPCC in 2023 consistently highlight the need to transition away from fossil fuels and halt new extraction projects. These calls are grounded in robust scientific evidence. Yet, some companies continue their harmful practices, even claiming to be part of the solution. Companies like Exxon and Total have been aware of their environmental impact since the 1970s and have contributed to climate change denial. Banks continue to finance fossil fuel projects heavily.
In light of this, I propose we rethink our approach. Why not shift the burden of proof and demand proof of environmental commitment from these companies?
I'm looking to include a specific clause in my new business contracts. This clause would prohibit the use of my upcoming software for activities that directly or indirectly support or promote fossil fuel usage. Alternatively, it would require companies to demonstrate their commitment to reducing fossil fuel usage.
I won't claim it's easy or that I know the way forward. Crafting such a clause, which is both clear and enforceable, is challenging. It's also important that potential client employees can easily determine their company's eligibility to use the software.
I've looked online for examples but found very few. While the Climate Strike License is an interesting initiative, its focus on direct producers and use of an outdated blacklist are limitations. For instance, I believe airlines should be concerned about this clause, given the current lack of serious decarbonization plans.
So, here's my question:
How can we create a clear and effective contractual clause to exclude companies or specific use cases that continue to rely on fossil fuels without any intent to change?
Here's a draft of the clause, but I'm sure it's far from perfect.
The use of the software is strictly prohibited by any company or entity whose primary or significant activity contributes directly or indirectly to the exploration, production, expansion, or support of fossil fuel resources —explicitly including oil, natural gas, and coal— and related infrastructure.
A second part could detail the prohibited activities:
This includes, but is not limited to, companies engaged in oil and gas exploration, logistical support for fossil fuel extraction, management and operational services for existing fossil fuel production facilities, and initiatives aimed at increasing the output of fossil fuel resources. The prohibition extends to the marketing, promotion, or advertising of such activities, provision of services, technical support, or resources to directly involved entities in the fossil fuel sector, financial organizations funding or investing in related projects or infrastructures. Further, it encompasses entities that consume substantial quantities of fossil fuels and do not exhibit a verifiable commitment to significantly reduce such consumption within an established timeframe.
The "No Fossil Fuel Clause" suggested here is merely a draft, a starting point for further discussion. I invite lawyers, sustainability consultants, developers, and anyone interested to contribute to refining and implementing this idea. Join the discussion on Reddit or Hacker News.