Ecuador Breaks Its Amazon Deal

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Is this the future of Ecuador’s Yasuní-ITT?

Ecuador Breaks Its Amazon Deal
An OpEd by Kevin Koenig, Amazon Watch Ecuador Program Director
In 2007, Ecuador pledged to refrain from oil drilling in the Amazon’s Yasuni National Park in exchange for financial compensation from several foreign governments. The so-called Yasuni-ITT initiative, named for the park’s Ishpingo, Tambococha and Tiputini oil fields, which together contain some 846 million barrels of heavy crude, sought to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, prevent deforestation and protect one of the world’s most biodiverse areas. To offset the renounced revenue, then estimated at over $7 billion, Ecuador requested $3.6 billion to be paid over a period of 13 years by some of the world’s richest nations. It was the first time a country had proposed keeping such a large reserve permanently in the ground.

The initiative, managed through a trust fund administered by the United Nations Development Program, was popular in Ecuador. But in 2013, with only $13 million in cash raised, President Rafael Correa pulled the plug. Last month, the same week Mr. Correa condemned Chevron for its toxic legacy in Ecuador’s northern Amazon, the Environment Ministry approved plans for drilling in Yasuni by Petroamazonas, a subsidiary of state-run Petroecuador. The first crude could flow by early 2016.

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