Fueling Failure: How coal, oil and gas sabotage all seventeen sustainable development goals

Fuelling Failure is the first report to highlight the dangers fossil fuels and plastic production pose to every single UN Sustainable Development Goal. The 17 SDGs, whose 169 targets aim to “end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030,” touch on a diverse range of issues and challenges such as biodiversity, work, health, inequality and food. The goals apply to all countries, rich and poor, with the aim of ensuring that “no one will be left behind.” In contrast, plastic reduction and zero waste strategies would help us meet the world’s SDG’s, fast.

The paper was produced by researchers at the University of Sussex on behalf of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative and key civil society partners with expertise across the SDGs: 350.org, ActionAid, REN21, Stand.earth, CAN South Asia, UNRISD, Food and Water, Rapid Transition Alliance, Leave It In the Ground Initiative, GAIA, CAN International, Center for Biological Diversity, Stamp Out Poverty, MOCICC, Power Shift Africa, WECAN and Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development.

This report highlights the most actionable steps governments can take to reduce methane emissions. We found that by tackling the waste sector, governments will get fast results using some of the easiest and most affordable methane reduction strategies available.  Waste prevention, source-separation of organic discards, and other methods can reduce solid waste methane emissions by as much as 95% by 2030. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to build a resilient economy is more pressing than ever. Today, waste management is a sector that typically uses up to 4-19% of municipal budgets. While zero waste systems are known for their wide-range of environmental benefits, they are also an affordable and practical strategy to waste management that is greatly economically advantageous.

This report documents the link between climate change and unsustainable patterns of consumption and wasting, dispels myths about the climate benefits of landfill gas recovery and waste incineration, outlines policies needed to effect change, and offers a roadmap for how to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions within a short period.