Is ‘Leave it in the Ground’ a universal demand?

Leave it in the ground
Leave it in the ground

Leave that oil in the soil, keep that coal in the hole!

This, or some variation of it, has been one of most popular slogans on the school climate strikes and numerous climate demonstrations. In the process of preparing the ground for the launch of Global Ecosocialist Network (GEN) the point was raised with me that the demand to ‘Leave it in the ground’  i.e to halt all further extraction of fossil fuels,  could be interpreted as not taking account of the climate debt owed by the countries of the Global North to the Global South, and the need for a sustainable and just transition to ending extraction of fossil fuels in these countries.

My response was that I thought this was just the sort of issue a global ecosocialist network should discuss in the spirit of learning from our different situations and experiences. So this is an invitation to debate. What do comrades think?

In this context I will just say that in Ireland, where I am based, this demand was both popular and useful. The socialist TD (MP) Brid Smith, of People Before Profit, introduced into parliament a Climate Emergency Measures Bill banning all further exploration and extraction of fossil fuels on Irish land or in Irish waters. The Bill actually was actually passed by the Dáil (the Irish parliament) but blocked from becoming law by the neoliberal Fine Gael government, by means of a  behind the scenes constitutional technicality called a ‘money message’. This then provided a very useful focus for agitation by the movement while also exposing the hypocrisy of Government which, much like Trudeau in Canada, is very into spin and greenwashing and had happily declared ‘a climate emergency ‘ and produced a Climate Action Plan full of fine words but empty of serious action.

However, what works in one part of the world may not work elsewhere or could even be counterproductive. But, it is also possible that ‘Leave it in the Ground’ should be a universal demand of climate movement and that the debt owed to the Global South should be addressed by other means. To repeat, it would be good to hear from comrades especially comrades from the Global South.

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DisclaimerOpinions expressed in articles are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of other members of the Global Ecosocialist Network

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John Molyneux
About John Molyneux 37 Articles
Socialist writer and activist, editor of Irish Marxist Review, Ireland

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