Choosing environment over oil
THE AMAZON PINK DOLPHIN’S VOICE
Choosing environment over oil
The Green Party conference will be celebrating 40 years since the party was founded and given that the Yasuni project is one of the most exciting environmental projects on the planet, it is appropriate that members will be learning more about it when we meet in Nottingham next week.
The government of Ecuador in a ground-breaking project proposes to keep part of Ecuador’s vast oil reserves underground in exchange for international compensation. The Yasuni national park will be protected from oil extraction.
Green politics is about more than the environment – the politics of peace, social justice and grass-roots democracy are fundamental to our vision and practices.
If we degrade the environment we face a bleak future. Climate change is not the only threat to the environment. It is worth remembering that air pollution from car exhausts is a significant killer in London and other cities around the world. Climate change is, therefore, an imminent threat to all of us.
The World Bank has recently said that the world is on course to warm by 4ºC and that this will cause chaos. Extreme weather has become the new norm with hurricanes like Sandy and the recent snowstorms in the US creating widespread damage.
This January saw in Australia the highest mean monthly temperature of 29.68°C for 80 years with a cocktail of floods, storms and fires. Extreme weather is now normal weather.
Climate change is very simple. If we release carbon in fossil fuels that have built up over millions of years in a few short decades, we will accelerate temperatures and cause disaster.
From coral reefs decaying because of ocean acidification as CO2 is absorbed by seas, to polar bears in retreat, the effects on the natural environment are horrifying. Already extreme weather events are disrupting crops and pushing food prices ever higher.
We have to develop clean energy alternatives and burn less coal, oil and natural gas.
The international agreements to tackle climate change have not so far reduced emissions. Renewables have grown in scope but we are still taking more and more carbon out of the earth and releasing it into the skies.
The Yasuni project is the most radical alternative and a sign of hope. Ecuador which is both concerned with climate change and very dependent on oil extraction for economic development launched the project in 2007.
The idea is brilliantly simple and inspiring. The Yasuni national park, home to several indigenous groups and much biodiversity, sits on a huge oil deposit. In return for international aid the Ecuadorian government will preserve the Amazon forest covered by the park from all oil exploration.
While it would be more economic to simply drill for oil, Ecuador is committeed to trying to avoid doing so.
I can’t think of another country in the world which is refusing to drill for oil. Being out of pocket is less important than doing the right thing for future generations and the rainforests today.
Ecuador is the only country in the world actively seeking to stop increased carbon dioxide production.
Expanding renewables is essential but policies designed to keep oil and other fossil fuels in the ground while raising economic development to reduce poverty are equally necessary.
Like many other Latin American countries the Ecuadorian economy is very reliant on resource extraction. This of course leads to potential conflicts and compromises. It is worth noting in contrast while President Rafael Correa’s government is working to try to extract less oil and to protect natural parks, the opposite is occuring in the US under Barack Obama.
Over 44 million acres of US national parks have been opened up for oil exploration, 6m of which have been leased to oil drilling companies in the last four years. Obama has carried on with George Bush’s policy of putting big oil before conservation in the country’s most sensitive landscapes.
Ecuador has also recently introduced a rights of nature law to fight ecocide and is one of the world’s most innovative states in the field of environmental protection, social justice and democratic participation.
The indigenous principle of “buen vivir” – good living – means sustainable living and is becoming ever more important to their future.
Source: Morning star
Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras
Gustavo López Ospina
Pieter Jan Brouwer
Assistant: Emilia Romero
The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.
SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer.