Ecuador Moves Forward with Plan to Not Drill the Amazon in Exchange of Funds


A kid stands on pipes of previous oil extractions in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Photo: Lou Dematteis for the Crude Reflections book.
We spoke about this campaign being in the making before, and about a presentation of it a month ago at the UN, but now it's a fact: Ecuador is promoting the measure internationally to get funds, and says Germany, Spain and France have shown interest in backing up the plan. The country is also considering forming a consortium of countries with natural resources.

Known details of the plan

As we mentioned in other articles, Ecuador has the plan of not drilling the Amazon for oil (the 850 million barrels of crude that lie underneath the Yasuni reserve), if governmental, private and individual donations to a fund can cover at least half of the royalties the country would get if it exported that petrol.

According to the campaign's official website, by not exploiting these resources, the country would be saving the world 407 million tons of CO2 emissions of 'not burned oil'. It would also be preserving a rich forest, biodiversity, and two uncontacted tribes: an area of 4.8 million hectares that would be left untouched, and another 5 million hectares that would be sustainably managed. The total protected area represents 38% of all Ecuadorian territory.

The number the international fund has to cover is not a small one: the estimated value of the oil that could be extracted from Yasuni is about 6900 million USD. The government wants at least half of that to be able to ensure protection of the reserve: about 350 million USD a year.

Diplomatic promotion and 'consortium' plan

Now the preliminary talks are over and Ecuador "has launched a diplomatic offensive" to promote the plan before the climate change summit in Copenhagen, informs Reuters.

On a recent visit to London, president Rafael Correa called for international support and said that Germany, Spain and France have expressed interest in backing up the plan. According to Business Intelligence, Germany is considering a donation of 50 to 70 million dollars a year.

Now authorities are heading to Russia.

Reuters also informs Ecuador wants to go ahead and form a consortium of countries with natural and energy resources such as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Congo. The idea would be to create a sort of 'carbon credit' for carbon that was not emitted.

As Matthew mentioned before, the project faces a number of obstacles, like the legal mechanism for the trading of these offsets. However, we've also read some great arguments of why this makes perfect sense. And in front of the slow talks between world leaders that are making the globe doubt if they will reach an agreement in Copenhagen, individual countries conservation plans don't seem like such a crazy idea.

We'll have to wait to see if the plan succeeds.

More info on the plan:
Official website: Yasuni-itt.gov.ec (in English)
More on crude and Ecuador:
2008 Goldman Environmental Prize Winners Pablo Fajardo Mendoza and Luis Yanza on the fight against Chevron in Ecuador
Trudie Styler talks Crude about Oil in Ecuador
The TH Interview: Daryl Hannah in Ecuador

Tags: Amazonia | Ecuador | Oil