Germany to pull out of Ecuador’s Yasuni initiative?

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Ecuador plans to leave almost a billion barrels of oil in the ground below the Yasuni National Park, in return for US$3.6 billion or about half of the market value of the oil. It’s been hailed as “The world’s first really green oil deal”. In 2008, the German Parliament agreed to support the Yasuni initiative. But now Germany’s Minister for Economic Development and Cooperation, Dirk Niebel, says Germany “will not consider payment into the trust fund”.

The Yasuni initiative applies to an area of 175,000 hectares of some of the most biodiverse rainforest on the planet, home to two of the world’s last remaining uncontacted indigenous groups: the Tagaeri and the Taromenane. Others, the Shuar, Waorani, and Kichwa, only recently came into contact with the modern world. Under the initiative, 846 million barrels of oil would be kept permanently underground, avoiding the emission of 407 million metric tonnes of CO2.

In August 2010, the UN Development Programme signed an agreement with the Ecuadorian government. Under the agreement, UNDP would be an independent administrator of the trust fund for the scheme. An analysis of the details of the agreement signed is available in this article on mongabay.com: “A look at Ecuador’s agreement to leave 846 million barrels of oil in the ground”.

The agreement with UNDP was a condition of Germany’s involvement in Yasuni, as was the support of at least one other country. In August 2010, Carlos Larrea, the initiative’s technical adviser, told the Independent that “Spain and Belgium have expressed support, as have a number of other European countries. We’re very optimistic.”

But in a letter dated 14 September 2010, to Ute Koczky, development spokesperson for the Green party, Dirk Niebels writes that there are “key questions” that are either “not satisfactorily answered or are unanswered”. He states that the Yasuni initiative “lacks a consistent rationale, a clear goal structure” and he expresses his concern about the guarantees that the oil will be permanently left underground. And he adds that so far, no other country has agreed to support the initiative.

The letter is available here (pdf file 252 KB, in German). German NGO Rettet den Regenwald has set up an online protest action (in German), here. So far, almost 8,000 people have sent the protest letter.

The Oilwatch International Network has produced a statement to the German Parliament, which is posted below, in English, Spanish and German.

OPEN LETTER FROM THE OILWATCH NETWORK
TO GERMAN PARLIAMENTARIANS

20 September 2010

Oilwatch is an international network that has closely followed the impacts of oil industry operations, particularly on tropical ecosystems, and has found that these operations are inevitably disastrous for local communities. They contaminate water systems, affect local and global climate conditions, lead to militarization and violence, and subject countries to a model of dependence that is difficult to overcome. In this regard, Ecuador’s Yasuní-ITT proposal is an act of justice in which the international community can and should also play a part.

In June 2008, when the German parliament passed a resolution to back the Yasuní-ITT initiative, it opened up the possibility that for the first time in history, a direct correlation would be made between the root causes of the climate crisis and decisions adopted to confront it.

However, the recent declaration by Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel has sparked a crisis which, nonetheless, could serve as an opportunity to discuss certain underlying questions: How will we confront the climate crisis? What are the responsibilities of the North and South with regard to the crisis? How can new forms of plunder be prevented? How will we confront the accelerated production of oil and its decline?

The German parliament’s initial decision led to the undertaking of studies by a number of NGOs, such as the Germany agency GTZ. However, none of this research sought to answer questions such as those posed above, because these studies were limited to assessing the viability of the Yasuní-ITT initiative within the framework of current climate negotiations, without recognizing the true strength of the proposal. Through this initiative, Ecuador is offering the world a real possibility of preventing the emission of enormous volumes of greenhouse gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels, and it was hoped that the world would recognize this fact, show its solidarity and contribute to carrying the initiative through.

In international discussions of the climate crisis, the polluters, banks and companies responsible for creating the crisis have invested time and money into transforming the real problems of destruction of ecosystems, pollution, diseases and climate disasters into virtual discussions of carbon molecules and financing that almost no one is able to understand. In this way, they have distracted attention from the search for solutions and replaced them with a series of evasive measures that are often not only unviable or absurd but also perverse.

The strength of the Yasuní-ITT initiative has always resided in maintaining it as a proposal outside the carbon market and REDD, fully distanced from negotiations pursued under the Kyoto Protocol. The initiative was conceived as a new idea that broke onto the international stage with a different kind of language and proposals and with clear and effective results.

Linking the Yasuní proposal to REDD would not contribute to the success of the proposal. On the contrary, such an approach raises concerns, because REDD – and its probable national version, SocioBosque – neither fulfil the expectations of indigenous organizations nor provide a real solution to the climate problem. Critics also point out that this could lead to the loss of collective rights for the communities involved and violates the spirit and the letter of the Ecuadorian Constitution, which recognizes nature as having rights of its own (Art. 10 and 71) and that as a result, “… environmental services will not be subject to appropriation” (Art. 74).

We must not confuse the pragmatism of making the initiative viable at any cost with the renunciation of its core principles. Adapting the proposal to mechanisms that are constantly criticized and which we know are inefficient and foster new forms of plunder would be to impoverish and limit a good opportunity.

The Yasuní-ITT proposal is the best opportunity precisely because it is an alternative to the other proposals that have been on the negotiating table. In addition, it opens the way to talk about rights, and about biodiversity and climate in the context of oil extraction. It even strengthens the position of those who want to prevent deforestation, because it removes the need for highways, the building of infrastructure and other forms of occupation of the forests that are direct causes of the loss of forest cover.

It is also an opportunity to discuss the new trends emerging as a result of the decline in oil production and their effects, such as the impacts of deep-sea oil drilling or the extraction of extra heavy crude, as well as the consequences of oil exploration in the territories of the last free peoples, cornered by the threat looming over them. The impacts of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrate the irrationality of continuing operations in high-risk areas and expose the threats that endanger the planet’s stability. The Yasuní-ITT proposal is without question the first step towards the establishment of areas where oil drilling should be prohibited in perpetuity in order to protect biodiversity and the rights of free peoples, but above all for the urgently needed paradigm shift towards non-oil societies.

Oilwatch can provide the German parliament with information on the impacts of oil operations, the different types of operations, the consequences for local populations, and the relationship between oil and the climate crisis, in order to make it clear that the real threat to rights, biodiversity and the climate are oil operations.

German parliamentarians now have the opportunity to play a decisive role in the defence of the peoples and the planet through clear and determined support for the Yasuní-ITT initiative.

esperanza@oilwatch.orginfo@oilwatch.orgwww.oilwatch.org


CARTA ABIERTA DE LA RED OILWATCH
A LOS PARLAMENTARIOS ALEMANES

20 de septiembre del 2010

Oilwatch es una red internacional que ha dado seguimiento a los impactos de las operaciones petroleras particularmente en ecosistemas tropicales y encuentra que estas operaciones son siempre desastrosas para las comunidades locales, contaminan las aguas, afectan las condiciones del clima locales y globales, provocan militarización y violencia y someten a los países a modelos de dependencia difíciles de superar. En esta medida la propuesta ecuatoriana Yasuni-ITT es un acto de justicia del cual pueden y deben ser parte también la comunidad internacional.

Cuando en junio del 2008 el parlamento alemán sacó su resolución de apoyo a la iniciativa Yasuní-ITT abrió la posibilidad de que por primera vez en la historia se haga una relación directa entre los hechos que provocaron la crisis climática y las decisiones para evitarla.

Sin embargo la reciente declaración de Ministro Federal de Desarrollo y Cooperación Económica, Dirk Niebel, abre una crisis que, de todas maneras, puede resultar en una oportunidad para discutir temas de fondo: ¿Cómo enfrentaremos la crisis climática? ¿Cuáles son las responsabilidades Norte-Sur con relación a la crisis?¿Cómo evitar nuevas formas de despojo? ¿Cómo enfrentaremos la aceleración de la producción y el declive petrolero?

La decisión inicial del parlamento alemán motivó la realización de estudios a cargo de varias ONG como la alemana GTZ. Sin embargo ninguna de estas investigaciones procuró responder preguntas como las planteadas arriba pues se limitaron a analizar la viabilidad de la iniciativa Yasuní-ITT dentro de las actuales negociaciones del clima sin reconocer la verdadera fuerza de la propuesta. Con ella Ecuador le da al mundo la posibilidad real de evitar la emisión de enormes cantidades de gases con efecto invernadero provenientes de combustibles fósiles y por esto espera que el mundo la reconozca, sea solidario y aporte para la consecución de tal iniciativa.

En el escenario internacional sobre la crisis climática los contaminadores, los bancos y las empresas responsables de la misma, han invertido tiempo y dinero para transformar los problemas reales de destrucción de ecosistemas, contaminación, enfermedades y desastres climáticos, a discusiones virtuales sobre moléculas de carbono y finanzas, que casi nadie alcanza a entender. De esta manera distraen las soluciones y las sustituyen por una serie de evasivas muchas veces no solo inviables o absurdas sino también perversas.

La fortaleza de la iniciativa Yasuní-ITT ha sido siempre mantenerla como una propuesta por fuera del mercado del carbono y de REDD, ajena a las negociaciones impulsadas bajo el protocolo de Kioto. Tal y como fue concebida se trataba de una idea nueva que irrumpía en el escenario internacional con un lenguaje y propuestas diferentes y con claros y efectivos resultados.

Las pretensiones de vincular la propuesta Yasuní a REDD, no contribuye al éxito de la misma. Al contrario, siembran dudas, pues REDD -y su probable versión nacional SocioBosque-, no cumple ni con las expectativas de las organizaciones indígenas ni sirven para solucionar el problema del clima. Las críticas además señalan que podrían acarrear pérdida de derechos colectivos de las comunidades involucradas e incumplen el espíritu y letra de la Constitución ecuatoriana que reconoció a la naturaleza como nuevo sujeto de derechos (Art. 10 y 71) y que en tanto sujeto dice: “..los servicios ambientales no serán susceptibles de apropiación” (Art. 74).

No hay que confundir el pragmatismo de hacer viable la iniciativa a toda costa con la renuncia a los principios sustantivos de la misma. Acomodar la propuesta a los mecanismos que no paran de recibir criticas y que sabemos son ineficientes y generan nuevas formas de despojo, es empobrecer y limitar una buena posibilidad.

La propuesta Yasuní-ITT es la mejor oportunidad porque justamente es alternativa a las que han estado en la mesa de las negociaciones. Además, permite hablar de derechos, y de biodiversidad y clima en un contexto de extracción de petróleo, incluso fortalece las posiciones de quienes quieren evitar la deforestación, pues hacen innecesarias las carreteras, la construcción de infraestructura y otras formas de ocupación de los bosque, causas directas de la pérdida de bosques.

También es una oportunidad para discutir las nuevas tendencias resultantes del declive petrolero y sus efectos como son los impactos de las actividades hidrocarburíferas en mares ultraprofundos o los de la extracción de crudos extrapesados, así como las consecuencias de las exploraciones sobre territorios de los últimos pueblos libres, arrinconados por las amenazas que se ciernen sobre ellos. Los efectos del derrame en el Golfo de México demuestran la irracionalidad de continuar con operaciones en zonas de alto riesgo y revelan amenazas que ponen en peligro la estabilidad planetaria. La propuesta Yasuni-ITT es sin duda el primer paso para la consecución de zonas en donde debe estar vedada a perpetuidad la extracción petrolera para proteger la biodiversidad y los derechos de los pueblos libres, pero sobre todo para el necesario cambio de paradigma hacia sociedades no petroleras.

Oilwatch pone a disposición del parlamento alemán información sobre los impactos de las operaciones petroleras, las formas de operar, las consecuencias para los pueblos, la relación del petróleo con la crisis climática, a fin de recordar que la verdadera amenaza a los derechos, biodiversidad y el clima son las operaciones petroleras.

Los parlamentarios alemanes tienen ahora la posibilidad de ser determinantes en la defensa de los pueblos y el planeta con un apoyo claro y decidido a la iniciativa Yasuni-ITT.

RED INTERNACIONAL OILWATCH

esperanza@oilwatch.orginfo@oilwatch.orgwww.oilwatch.org


Offener Brief des Netzwerks OILWATCH an die Abgeordneten des deutschen Bundestages

20. September 2010

OILWATCH ist ein internationales Netzwerk, welches die Auswirkungen der Erdölförderung insbesondere in tropischen Ökosystemen beobachtet und analysiert. Die Analysen belegen immer wieder die desaströsen Folgen der Erölförderung für die lokale Bevölkerung, denn die Ölgewinnung geht mit Militarisierung und Gewalt einher, sie führt zur Verseuchung von Grund- und Trinkwasser und zur Veränderung von Mikro- und globalen Klimaverhältnissen. Die Förderländer werden dabei einem Modell der Abhängigkeit unterworfen, welches schwer zu überwinden ist. In diesem Kontext kann die ecuadorianische Yasuní/ITT-Initiative als ein Akt der Gerechtigkeit gelten, zu welchem auch die internationale Staatengemeinschaft einen Beitrag leisten kann und sollte.

Als im Juni 2008 der deutsche Bundestag beschloss, die Yasuni/ITT-Initiative zu unterstützen, machte sich die historische Möglichkeit auf, klimaschädliches Verhalten und die aktive Entscheidung seiner Vermeidung direkt aufeinander zu beziehen.

Die kürzlich veröffentlichte Nachricht des deutschen Entwicklungshilfeministers Dirk Niebel in seinem Brief an Frau MdB Ute Kozcy löst eine Krise aus, die nichtsdestotrotz als Chance begriffen werden sollte, umfassendere Fragestellungen zu thematisieren: Wie können wir den drohenden Klimawandel abwenden? Welche Verantwortung hat der Norden gegenüber dem Süden bezüglich der Klimakrise? Wie können neue Formen der Ausbeutung vermieden werden? Wie begegnen wir der Steigerung der Ölförderung einerseits und dem Versiegen der Ölreserven andererseits?

Die damalige Entscheidung des deutschen Bundestages führte zu Untersuchungen im Auftrag von Organisationen wie der GTZ. Es ging in diesen Untersuchungen aber nicht um die Beantwortung der oben genannten Fragestellungen, sondern sie beschränkten sich auf Fragen der Durchführbarkeit der Yasuni/ITT-Initiative innerhalb der laufenden Klimaverhandlungen. Damit wurde das wirkliche Potential der Initiative verkannt. Denn mit der Yasuni/ITT-Initiative bietet Ecuador der internationalen Staatengemeinschaft die Möglichkeit, den Ausstoß großer Mengen an Treibhausgasen aus fossilen Brennstoffen komplett zu vermeiden. Wir erwarten, dass die internationale Staatengemeinschaft dieses Potential anerkennt und die Umsetzung der Yasuni/ITT-Initiative unterstützt.

In die internationalen Szenarien zur Klimakrise haben die Verschmutzer, die Banken und die verantwortlichen Konzerne viel Zeit und Geld investiert, um die reale Gefahr der Umweltzerstörung, der Ausbreitung von Krankheiten, der Klimaschwankungen und des Verlustes ganzer Ökosysteme, in eine virtuelle Diskussion über Kohlendioxid-Moleküle und Finanzierungsmodelle zu verwandeln, die kein Laie mehr versteht. Auf diese Weise lenken sie von wichtigen Lösungsansätzen ab und ersetzen sie durch eine Serie von Scheinlösungen, die nicht nur undurchführbar oder absurd sind, sondern oftmals schlicht pervers.

Die Stärke der Yasuni/ITT-Initiative war es bisher, einen konkreten Vorschlag ausserhalb des Emissionshandels, der CDM-Zertifizierung oder des REDD-Programms zu bieten, weil er kein Teil der laufenden Kyoto-Verhandlungen ist. Dieser Vorschlag stellt vielmehr eine neue Idee dar, die mit den internationalen Szenarien bricht und sich durch eine andere Sprache und einen konkreten Ansatz auszeichnet, der klare und effektive Ergebnisse ermöglicht.

Das Bestreben die Yasuni/ITT-Initiative mit REDD zu verknüpfen, trägt nicht zu dessen Erfolg bei. Im Gegenteil, es besteht Anlass zu berechtigten Zweifeln. Denn REDD (bzw. die geplante nationale Version `SocioBosque`) erfüllt weder die Erwartungen der indigenen Organisationen, noch dient es dem Klimaschutz.

Kritikerinnen des REDD zeigen darüber hinaus, dass dieses Programm die kollektiven Rechte der lokalen Gemeinschaften verletzt und den Leitlinien der ecuadorianischen Verfassung widerspricht, welche die Umwelt als neues Rechtssubjekt anerkennt (Artikel 10 und 71) und in diesem Sinne in Artikel 74 festhält: „… Umweltleistungen sind von einer Aneignung ausgeschlossen.“

Man sollte den aktuellen Pragmatismus in der Durchsetzung der Initative nicht mit dem Verzicht auf die grundlegenden Prinzipien derselben erkaufen. Mit der Anpassung der Initiative an die Mechanismen der Klimaverhandlungen, die von verschiedensten Seiten Kritik ernten, und von denen wir wissen, dass sie uneffektiv sind und nur neue Formen der Ausbeutung schaffen, wird eine wichtige Chance im Kampf gegen den Klimawandel verpasst.

Denn die Yasuni/ITT-Initiative ist eine echte Alternative zu den aktuellen Klimaschutzmaßnahmen. Darüberhinaus erlaubt die Initiative, Menschenrechte, Biodiversität und Klimaschutz im Kontext der Ölförderung zu thematisieren, was auch die Stärkung derjenigen Positionen umfasst, die sich gegen die Abholzung und den Verlust von Regenwald durch den Bau der Infrastruktur für die Ölförderung richten. Auch gibt es nun die Chance, neue Tendenzen im Kontext des fortschreitenden Versiegens der Ölreserven und den daraus resultierenden Folgen zu diskutieren, wie die Auswirkungen der Öl- und Gasförderungen in der Tiefsee, oder die Ausbeutung von Schweröl und Ölsanden, so wie die Konsequenzen, die die Ölförderung für die Gebiete der letzten von der Zivilisation unabhängigen indigenen Gemeinschaften hat. Diesen bleibt wegen der ständigen Drohungen oft nur die Flucht aus ihren Gebieten.

Die Folgen der Ölpest im Golf von Mexiko zeigen deutlich die Irrationalität von Ressourcenausbeutung in Risikogebieten, die eine Bedrohung für das Überleben der gesamten Erde darstellen. Die Yasuni/ITT-Initiative darf zweifellos als ein erster Schritt in der Einrichtung von Schutzzonen gelten, in denen keine Ölförderung fortgesetzt oder begonnen werden dürfen, um die natürliche Vielfalt zu schützen und die Rechte der lokalen Bevölkerung zu wahren. Genauso hat die Initative das Potential, den notwendigen Paradigmenwechsel zu erdölfreien Gesellschaften einzuleiten, oder genauer zu Gesellschaften, die in ihrer Produktion auf fossile Energieträger, kohlenstoffhaltige Materialien und auf Öl basierende Bestandteile verzichtet.

OILWATCH stellt dem deutschen Bundestag gerne Informationen über die Auswirkungen der Erdölförderung zur Verfügung, wie z.B. über die verschiedenen Förderungsweisen, die Konsequenzen für die lokale Bevölkerung, die Beziehung zwischen Ölförderung und Klimawandel, um wieder in Erinnerung zu rufen, dass die wahre Bedrohung für Menschenrechte, Biodiversität und Klima von der Erdölförderung selber ausgeht.

Der deutsche Bundestag hat nun die Möglichkeit, sich der Verteidigung der Bevölkerung und der Erde zu verpflichten, indem er sich klar und entschieden für die Yasuni/ITT-Initiative ausspricht.

Internationales Netzwerk OILWATCH

esperanza@oilwatch.orginfo@oilwatch.orgwww.oilwatch.org

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7 Comments

  1. The Oilwatch protest letter seems to be based on an fundamental misunderstanding: no-one is going to reduce the amount of oil they consume as a result of leaving the oil underground beneath Yasuni – they will simply buy oil from any of the enormous reserves elsewhere.

    In this sense, any putative climate benefit from paying the Ecuadorian government would be completely undermined by 100% leakage – and therefore I am not surprised that the German government has doubts about this scheme.

    Rather than investing in this peculiar inversion of the ‘polluter pays’ principle by paying someone *not* to pollute, perhaps it would be better for the German government to invest in some real avoided deforestation and degradation schemes – such as banning German-based logging companies from smashing up Congolese rainforests, and supporting local communities there to do something better than work for these latter-day slave empires.

  2. @Robin Webster – Thanks for the comment. I’ve always liked the Yasuni initiative because it’s the only government plan that I’m aware of to keep the oil in the soil. Unless we leave fossil fuels underground, we’re facing runaway climate change. Stopping the exploitation of oil in Yasuni and thus avoiding the destruction of the rainforests and the indigenous peoples’ livelihoods must be a good thing. Mustn’t it?

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. Let’s assume that BP is correct and there are 1,333 thousand million barrels of proven oil reserves – I know this figure is contentious, but for the sake of argument let’s accept it. Currently, the price of oil is about US$75/barrel. That means that there is US$99.9 trillion worth of oil sitting under the earth. If governments are going to accept half of this, that would mean finding almost US$50 trillion to keep the oil in the soil – paying potential polluters not to pollute.

    Meanwhile, for those governments who decide not to get involved with this scheme, the chances are that the price of oil would start to rocket as it becomes scarcer – all the incentives seem to be to dig out more oil.

    I do not want the oil under Yasuni to be exploited, because of the destruction this would cause. But I would welcome more discussion about this. (Including corrections to my, admittedly very rough, calculations – but whether or not BP’s figures are correct is not really the point, I think. If the world agrees to pay to leave the oil underground, then there is another incentive: to exaggerate how much oil there is.)

  3. I do like the Yasuni initiative as well, cause it is sincere and the Ecuador forest and people suffered from oil production in the past (law suits still ongoing). I see the keeping in the ground of oil as SIDE BENEFIT and I believe the best way to collect finance for other economic investments in that area is to give the CARBON IN THE FOREST AND SOILS a value through REDD, in such way that protecting the forest means protecting people that live in and from the forest and while the government shares the revenues, based on the peoples’ agenda. That can be done by UNDP Trustfunds, bilateral funds, carbon market, under the same conditions. What will help is when Ecuador makes a business plan of the project that gives Germany the trust that the revenues are good enough to keep the forest. Cause it seems that permanence of the project is Germanys’ worry

  4. @Chris

    Well I think you’ve identified precisely why the Yasuni initiative is a non-starter in terms of being a model for any serious climate saving initiative: because this approach, if extended globally (as it would have to be in order to prevent the problem of leakage), would cost more than the total global economy. The problem with Yasuni-style ‘paying the polluter not to pollute’ will be that new forms of pollution will always be discovered or invented, so there would be no end to the ecological ransom money that potential polluters could demand.

    I don’t want Yasuni’s oil to be exploited, but then neither do I want Canadian tar sands to be exploited, which arguably might fill any deficit of oil supply created by Yasuni oil being locked up, and which would probably be much worse for global climate.

    And @Jos Cozijnsen is right that if the aim is to save the Yasuni forest, then some kind of plan is needed to do that – but that plan need not necessarily be confused with the issue about paying Ecuador to keep its oil in the ground. One alternative might, for example, be to offer exploitation rights to an oil company on the strict conditions that it reduced exploitation elsewhere (especially if the company were involved in some super-filthy scheme such as tar-sands exploitation), agreed to ‘no-damage’ operations (technically just about possible) in Yasuni with extremely high penalty charges for non-compliance, and paid a hefty ‘carbon’ tax into a Trust Fund that would ensure the protection of Yasuni in perpetuity.

    That way we get the climate benefit, Yasuni gets protected, and we don’t have to resort to totally perverse ecological blackmail payments for non-pollution that will anyway probably not having any real net climate impact.

    Just a thought….

    RW

  5. The point being made can be summed up as follows:

    While it would be nice to save the forests at Yasuni, and leave the oil in the ground, this may not actually reduce the global emissions level because replacement oil sources would be found and used. As such, as a climate mitigation (emissions reduction) tool the Yasuni project does not stack up – regardless of whether or not it has other valid co-benefits for the environment and local people. On top of this, the financial costs of leaving the oil in the ground seem prohibitive anyway.

    These very valid problems all effectively stem from the high value of oil to our economy and lives. Until this is resolved, and the practical and financial value of oil is significantly reduced – the oil will be drilled and consumed, and ANY mitigation measure is effectively reduced to irrelevance in the face of it. (Don’t believe in the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) hype).

    Surely talk about ANY non-fossil fuels focused mitigation scheme is a climate red herring until fossil fuels are no longer widely required, and therefore no longer highly financially valued in our daily lives and the global economy.

    To achieve this, massive focus and investment needs to be put into alternatives to oil, gas and coal. If we assume that every dollar invested in non-fossil fuels focused reductions, such as REDD, for example, is a dollar not invested in the renewable energy technology and infrastructure required to wean us of oil, REDD itself becomes a barrier to its own efficacy, relevance, and success as a credible mitigation tool. It is not chemically possible to offset against an ongoing structural economic reliance on fossil fuels consumption.

    Germany would be best placed to put their money into renewable energy. Nothing else has any hope of reducing overall emissions while fossil fuels remain the central plank of economic activity worldwide. Keeping the oil in the ground in Yasuni will be irrelevant until demand for oil is low enough globally to mean that the idea of extracting it in the first place no longer makes economic sense.

    We should not be thinking of “how polluters can pay potential polluters not to pollute”. We should be thinking of “how to make pollution prohibitively pricey compared to replacements”.

  6. As the spotlight of potential contributors hones in on Ecuador, the promoters of the Initiative will not be able to avoid answering tough questions on the current political situation. The government should clarify its position on oil development to avoid putting off potential contributors to the fund.

    Snuffing out the involvement of civil society and indigenous groups in Ecuadorian policy-making could further harm the Initiative’s reputation and be a deal breaker for international donors. Correa will need Ecuadorian civil society and indigenous groups perhaps more than he realizes.

  7. As Ecuadorian I would just like to add some caveats,
    I agree that the Yasuni initiative would not reduce global emissions of carbon, al least at short term, but I would like to mention to many “devil advocates” that the initiative as other aspects that should be consider. The Yasuni is in one the most biodiverse areas in the plant; hence the initiate would assist in biodiversity conservation, something that has been taken as a very secular point, if taken into consideration at all, in all the climate change discussions. Moreover, the Yasuni overlaps with at least two indigenous groups, one of them still with no contact with “modern” society, so it would also prevent the entire social impacts that some indigenous groups have previously face in Ecuador, like the case with Chevron Texaco whose effect to indigenous groups changed their lives forever.
    I would like to mention also that some of the advocates of the initiative have pointed out that lickage should not be applied in this case because we are talking about a limited resource. That means, that at some point there will be no other sources to lick to but the oil in the Yasuni will still be there. I acknowledge that this a very long term idea and probably too late for the current climate problems that we are facing, but the initiative is a good start point with many other additional points, other than carbon alone, that should be consider. Biodiversity, indigenous groups, and I would even include at least the Ecuadorian society, it not more, who has rely on oil as the main resource for the country for decades.

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