Drill Baby Drill…In the Yasuní!!! Does DiCaprio believe that Rafael Correa is Ecuador’s Sarah Palin?





Yasuni: Ecuador abandons plan to stave off Amazon drilling

President says scheme to raise money from rich countries to compensate for oil moratorium has pulled in only $13m

 Yasuni National Park, in Ecuador's northeastern jungle
Overlooked … an aerial view of the Yasuni National Park, in Ecuador’s northeastern jungle. Photograph: Dolores Ochoa/AP

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has abandoned a unique and ambitious plan to persuade rich countries to pay his country not to drill for oil in a pristine Amazon rainforest preserve.

Environmentalists had hailed the initiative when Correa first proposed it in 2007, saying he was setting a precedent in the fight against global warming by reducing the high cost to poor countries of preserving the environment.

“The world has failed us,” Correa said in a nationally televised speech. He blamed “the great hypocrisy” of nations who emit most of the world’s greenhouse gases.

“It was not charity that we sought from the international community, but co-responsibility in the face of climate change.”

Correa had sought US$3.6bn in contributions to maintain a moratorium on drilling in the remote Yasuni national park, which was declared a biosphere reserve by the United Nations in 1989 and is home to two indigenous tribes living in voluntary isolation.

But on Thursday evening he said Ecuador had raised just $13m in actual donations and $116 million in pledges and he had an obligation to his people, particularly the poor, to move ahead with drilling.

Correa said he was proposing oil exploration in Yasuni amounting to just 1% of its 3,800 square miles.

His plan had envisioned rich countries paying Ecuador about $7.2bn, or half the revenue expected to be generated over 10 years from the 846 million barrels of heavy crude estimated to be in Yasuni.

Ecuadorean officials said then that not drilling in the reserve would keep 410 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

But while Correa’s proposal generated interest, there were few takers, in part because he insisted that Ecuador alone would decide how the donations would be spent.

Ecuador is an OPEC member that depends on oil for a third of its national budget. The three oil fields in Yasuni represent 20% of its oil reserves.

Political analyst Jose Fuentes of the Flacso university in Quito said Correa had opted “for economic pragmatism” in abandoning the environmentalist image he had wished to project internationally.

Matt Finer, a scientist at the US-based Center for International Environmental Law, expressed dismay at the decision.

“It is deeply disappointing that this alternative model for dealing with oil and gas reserves in mega-diverse rainforests did not work,” he said via email from Peru. “The Yasuni-ITT Initiative was the lone exception to the relentless expansion of hydrocarbon projects deeper into the most remote tracts of the western Amazon. Now there is really no viable alternative to stop the wave of drilling slated for the most biodiverse region of the world.”

Despite championing the project, Correa is not perceived domestically as much of an environmentalist. He has also upset indigenous groups with plans to develop mining projects.

Indigenous and environmental groups in Ecuador have said that any decision on the fate of Yasuni should be made in a national referendum.

Patricio Chavez, director of the environmental group Amazonia por la Vida, criticised Correa for leaving potential donors a single option: “Pay or we drill.”

Yasuni is not the only oil drilling that Correa’s government plans in the rainforest. He is also seeking to auction oil concessions in 13 blocks of 770 square miles each south of Yasuni, closer to the border with Peru.

Oil is Ecuador’s chief source of foreign earnings. The country produces 538,000 barrels of crude a day, delivering nearly half its production to the United States.

Source: The Guardian

Ecuador approves Yasuni national park oil drilling in Amazon rainforest

Environmentalists devastated as president blames lack of foreign support for collapse of pioneering conservation plan.





Ecuador has abandoned a pioneering conservation plan in the Amazon that attempted to raise funds from the international community instead of drilling for oil in a pristine corner of the Yasuni national park.

The collapse of the Yasuní ITT iniciative is a devastating blow for activists who are trying to save one of the world’s most biodiverse regions from development and pollution. It also kills climate campaigners’ hopes that the Ecuador plan could provide a model for other nations to resist the lure of oil money and leave fossil fuels under the ground.

President Rafael Correa blamed the failure on the lack of foreign support, after a trust fund set up to manage the initiative received only $13m (£8.3m) in deposits, a tiny fraction of the $3.6bn goal.

“The world has failed us,” Correa said in a televised address on Thursday night. “I have signed the executive decree for the liquidation of the Yasuni-ITT trust fund and with this, ended the initiative.”

The president said the decision was one of the most difficult he had been forced to make since taking office, but preparations for a U-turn have long been under way and exploration is likely to begin within weeks.





Correa said it would affect less that 1% of the park, but the termination of the conservation initiative has stirred up fury among environmentalists and is likely to upset the population at large. Polls show that between 78% and 90% of Ecuadoreans are opposed to drilling in this sensitive region.

Kelly Swing, the founder of the Tipitini research centre in Yasuni, said the area affected by drilling could be 20 or 30 times more than the government has claimed once access roads are factored in. “A new road is the death knell to any wilderness area, no matter where in the world,” he said.



Yasuni National Park in Ecuador

The Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini region of Yasuni contains more species in a hectare than all the wildlife in North America. Photograph: Alamy
Ecuador had won international praise in recent years for its seemingly progressive environmental policies, including the world’s first constitution that recognises the rights of nature, and the ITT initiative, which was widely seen as one of the boldest and most innovative approaches to conservation in the world. But the government is increasingly beholden to energy firms and China, which has extended generous loans to Ecuador backed by oil sales.The initiative was set up in 2007 after drilling firms discovered 796m barrels of crude under the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini region of Yasuni.This is an area of the Amazon that contains more species in one hectare than all the wildlife in North America.Horrified at the environmental and climate implications, the country’s energy minister at the time, Alberto Acosta drew up an alternative proposal.The ITT initiative promised to leave the oil in the ground, thereby preventing more than 400m tonnes of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere, if half the $7.2bn value of the reserve could be raised by the international community by 2023.

“It was not charity that we sought from the international community, but co-responsibility in the face of climate change,” Correa said in announcing the termination.

Money was not given directly to the Ecuadorean government but administered by the UN development programme working with a board made up of indigenous peoples, local communities, academics and others. They had lined up hydroelectric and solar projects, as well as social programmes, for funding.






The news appears to have taken the UN development programme by surprise. The organisation’s Yasuni website is still taking donations for the initiative.

Although it was hailed as idealistic, there were several problems. Critics accused Correa of environmental extortion. Others were sceptical about what would happen to donations if the programme collapsed.

While individuals – including Bo Derek, Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton and Al Gore, as well as many members of the British public (who were the leading private contributors) – made generous donations, government level response was weak.

Italy wrote off $51m of its external debt as a contribution, and Germany offered $50m in technical assistance to Yasuni rather than the ITT project. Chile, Colombia, Georgia and Turkey donated token amounts. Belgium, Brazil, France, Lebanon, Indonesia, Turkey, Spain and Qatar also promised donations.

By the start of this year, pledges totalled $300m, according to its negotiators, but it is now apparent that only a fraction of that amount was actually deposited in the trust.

Oil companies have been quietly preparing for the abandonment of the initiative. PetroEcuador has pushed ahead with development of extraction block 31, which sits on the edge of the ITT. Roads are also under construction close to the ITT project in an area that is famous for jaguar sightings.

Acosta, who drafted the country’s constitution, stood against Correa in February’s presidential election, warning that the government’s environmental policies were under threat.

“If Correa wins, the ITT initiative will be dropped. The infrastructure is already in place to exploit the oil,” Acosta predicted during the campaingn. “He’s preparing to blame rich nations for not giving enough to make it work.”

Correa has debts to pay. Ecuador is unable to access finance on international markets. Instead it has sold more oil and borrowed more from China – both of which add to the impetus to exploit fossil fuels in the Amazon.

Although pragmatic, the announcement is a blow to efforts to find alternative funding models for climate change policies and wildlife conservation in the face of increasing pressure from mining companies and farmers.






Animal populations across the planet are 30% smaller now than in 1970, according to the UN environment programme. In tropical regions such as Ecuador, the rate of decline is almost double the global average.

Source: The Guardian


Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras


Editorial Committee

David Dunham

Arno Ambrosius

Gustavo López Ospina

Mariana Almeida

Frank Brouwer

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. 


~ by FSVSF Admin on 19 August, 2013.

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