Ecuador Scraps Plan to Block Rain Forest Oil Drilling
By Scott Wallace
The decision by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa to abandon a plan to spare the species-rich Yasuní rain forest in eastern Ecuador from oil development has dashed hopes for what environmentalists had hailed as a historic approach to weaning industrial society from its dependence on fossil fuels.
(Read more about Yasuní National Park in National Geographic magazine.)
“Ecuador and the world have lost an opportunity to shape a revolutionary initiative,” said Alberto Acosta, Ecuador’s former minister of energy and mines, and one of the chief architects of the so-called Yasuní-ITT Initiative, which Correa unveiled to the international community in 2007. “It was a giant step on the road toward post-extractivism.”
The initiative had called for leaving an estimated 850 million barrels of untapped Amazon crude in the ground in the Ishpingo, Tambococha, and Tiputini oil fields—the ITT Block—located inside Yasuní National Park.
In return for preserving the wilderness and preventing an estimated 410 million tons of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere, Ecuador had sought from developed countries $3.6 billion in compensation, roughly half the revenues the country would have accrued from exploiting the resource.
The United Nations Development Program had set up a trust to administer the funds.
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