Save the Planet or End Poverty? How to Escape the Extractivist Dilemma
To slow the pace of climate change, scientists say we will have to leave as much as 80 percent of global fossil fuel reserves in the ground. But a left-wing candidate’s surprising loss in Ecuador’s recent election shows how the demand to end oil and mineral production in the Global South can put progressive forces in an excruciating dilemma: How can leftist governments in poor countries shut down oil wells and close mines but still bring in sufficient revenue to fight poverty?
Environmentalists in the United States have barely noticed the predicament. The latest proposals for a Green New Deal either ignore or scarcely mention the poor nations in Latin America, Africa, and Asia that depend on oil and mineral exports. It’s time to acknowledge this oversight and find a solution that accepts the reality of the climate crisis while also reducing inequality. Fortunately, a little-noticed proposal emerged a few years ago in Ecuador that could help the left avoid this lose-lose proposition.
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