Rhein on Energy and Climate

With a great majority the Ecuadorian parliament has approved to start the exploration and production of oil in its Yasuni natural Park, which contains among the earth’s richest varieties of plant and animal species.

This is the reaction to the failure of an interesting deal that Rafael Correa, the Ecuadorian president, had proposed to the international community: if you pay me a minimum of $ 3.6 billion, half of the expected oil revenues, during 12 years we shall abstain from developing the oil and preserve the Park`s natural treasures.

But the response from the international community was deemed totally insufficient to compensate for the foregone oil revenues. Were governments afraid of setting a dangerous precedent? Was no government pressing the case? Or has China blocked the deal as some environmentalists claim?

Even if the deal was not directly linked to the preservation of tropical forests its failure speaks volumes about the feasibility of an international climate fund to come on stream by 2020. Will the international community ever be able to come up with $ 100 billion when it is not even able to muster a tiny amount of $ 3.6 billion over 12 years for the preservation of a precious nature paradise in the Amazon?

Maybe Correa should have asked the King of Saudi Arabia to put up the $ 3.6 billion. After all, the absence of Ecuadorian oil in the world market would have a positive, however tiny the impact on world market prices! And the King could have been proud of having helped preserve Nature!

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 8/10/2010


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