Ecuador promises to leave biggest oilfield untouched

Posted: 25 September 2007

In an unprecedented initiative, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa has told the UN summit on climate change, now meeting in New York, that his country proposes to leave its largest oil reserve untouched and avoid all oil extraction activities in the Yasuni National Park, where it is located.

Though not an entirely new idea (see below) he presented the Yasuní-ITT Initiative to world leaders today as a contribution to the reduction of global greenhouse gases and to initiate Ecuador's transition toward the world's first truly sustainable economy.

A key part of this initiative is to avoid oil extraction activities in Yasuni National Park, home to at least two indigenous tribes that live in voluntary isolation and one of the most biodiverse places on earth.

Ecuador proposes to leave the nearly one billion barrel ITT oilfield unexploited in order to preserve Yasuni's astounding biodiversity, ecosystem services, and the cultural integrity of its indigenous inhabitants.

Ecuador says it is proposing to forgo the revenue from oil production because it believes the value of avoiding climate change and deforestation is of greater value to Ecuador and the planet as a whole.

Oil exports

Ecuador said it should be recognized that highly industrialized countries have contributed over half of the atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions to date, and should therefore assume stronger targets for greenhouse gas reductions and give greater support to initiatives that combat additional increases in greenhouse gases.

Ecuador, whose historic carbon dioxide emissions amount to less than 0.5 per cent, has now offered to keep nearly 436 million tons of carbon dioxide permanently sequestered in the ground, as a voluntary contributing to global climate change mitigation.

Commentatords point out that it is the first time that a country dependent on oil exports for one third of its income has proposed forgoing oil extraction to support global sustainability objectives, and while inviting the world to help Ecuador achieve its goal of transitioning toward a new green economy.

Ecuador believes that the Yasuní-ITT Initiative will eventually underwrite the National Development Plan. This Plan gives priority to the use of renewable energy, efficient transportation systems, poverty eradication and equitable access to quality healthcare and education. The Plan also includes promotion of ecotourism and sustainable development for Ecuador's Amazonian region.

Source: Amazon Watch

Related links:

Save Yasuni National Park plea

Ecuador stops petrobras's oil road into biodiversity treasure