To leave it in the ground -or not.

This is a copy of a comment I made at ClimateProgress almost two years ago. It needs to be repeated.


Why do we accept the talk about “lowering the emission”, when we might as well saying “leaving the fossil carbon in the ground”. A reduction of the human induced emissions of CO2 implies that carbon eventually is not taken out from the ground. If you want to reduce emissions by 80%, you have to reduce the amount of coal/gas/oil you dig up by approximately… 80%. (If this is enough is another story). And it needs to be done pretty soon, maybe some years ago.

A. No world leaders dare to talk public about the consequences of not digging up the carbon (for ex Who will get it? How to tackle poverty? What will happen with Russian and Saudi economy? What about all pensions (voters) invested in carbon industry?).
B. No world leaders dare to talk about the fact that whatever carbon is brought up from the ground, it will eventually be emitted as CO2 (Maybe not by me or you, but by somebody). Instead we accept the talk about lowering our own emissions as if that was enough.

Implication for those who argue we can “save climate” with wind power, low energy light bulbs, efficient cars, personal reduction of emission, carbon trading etc: It is NOT saving ourselves from catastrophic climate changes. It is however maintaining welfare when we have done what we have to do, namely: Leaving the fossil carbon in the ground (and the trees on the ground). Not just a plan or a goal for the future, but actually leaving it there. For a start.

Not even talking about leaving the carbon in the ground makes me a bit pessimistic about our capability to deal with our own the future, added upon all the knowledge we have about climate scenarios and the lack of strategies for dealing with major consequences.

As long as there is an acceptance for a baseline that says it is okay to bring up the coal/gas/oil as long as you use it efficiently, we are failing.
We need to understand that we no longer have access to the carbon stored in the sediments. We have to survive without it. With it, many peoples won’t.

About author View all posts Author website

Martin Hedberg

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • I agree, we must leave the carbon in the ground. All oil producing companies should be compensated by double pay per barrel oil/gas/coal they bring up to the surface of the earth ONLY if they reduce the production by 50% or more. Half sales volume x double pay = same income but the oil/gas/coal will last twice as many years which is good for everybody!