In Kyoto in 1997, the organization Oilwatch proposed that remaining oil be left in the ground in areas that had suffered or were expected to suffer from the effects of petroleum extraction, including soil and water pollution, and from the effects of the burning of natural gas. Too many human lives had been lost, and too much of the natural environment destroyed. No reparations had been made for damages perpetrated by Chevron-Texaco in Ecuador or Shell in Nigeria. Environmental liabilities were not recognized by private or state companies. This was the context that gave rise to Nnimmo Bassey’s slogan "leave the oil in the soil", which was quickly supplemented by "leave the coal in the hole".
It is now accepted that climate change is a major crisis that can turn catastrophic for the planet if real actions to avert it continue to be avoided. This crisis can only be effectively dealt with by tackling the root causes. The burning of fossil fuels by humans for energy is the primary cause. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution up to 80 percent of atmospheric capacity to absorb carbon emissions has been taken up by industrialised countries. The reality is that at least 80 percent of currently known fossil fuels must be left unburned to avoid catastrophic global warming and to avoid local destruction where fossil fuels are being extracted.
Oilwatch’s Call for a De-petroleum-ized Habitat III. This call was made at the end of the General Assembly of Oilwatch International held in Quito, Ecuador. The General Assembly also marked Oilwatch's 20th Anniversary.