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Global Ideas

Lots of money for no oil

Ecuador is willing to refrain from drilling for oil in its rainforests if the world offers financial compensation.

Project goal: Preserving biodiversity, saving CO2
Project size: 846 million barrels of crude oil are meant to remain intact in the ground
Project volume: Ecuador hopes for revenue worth $3.6 billion (by early 2013, $250 million were paid)
CO2 savings: Around 1.2 billion tons (a third is saved in crude oil, two thirds through avoiding deforestation)

The Yasuni National Park in northeastern Ecuador on the border to Peru is considered one of the most species diverse regions in the world. There are more tree types on a single hectare here than in the whole of North America. But oil exploration and related deforestation is threatening the forest and indigenous tribes. The state-run initiative Yasuni ITT has committed to leave oil reserves in the ground untouched in return for financial compensation. They're collecting money in a trust fund administered by the United Nations. The money is to be invested instead in promoting eco-tourism, education and the expansion of renewable energies. It's a unique model but it isn't free of controversy: non-governmental organizations and environmental groups have raised concerns about some aspects. For instance, the Ecuadorean government has pledged not to extract oil in some regions of the national park, but in other places exploration continues unabated, destroying the rainforest.

A film by Manuela Kasper-Claridge

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