Ecuador's $3.6bn scheme to save its rainforest from exploitation could point the way to sparing other threatened landscapes
By Esmé McAvoy
Sunday, 8 August 2010
The world's first genuinely green energy deal is about to be sealed. In a plan which could be a blueprint for saving large tracts of the planet from exploitation, a greater value is being put on a pristine wilderness than on the oil that lies beneath.
While the world's industrialised countries are building complex carbon markets to enable them to carry on polluting, Ecuador has come up with a much simpler idea for mitigating climate change: leave the oil underground. It is promising to lock up as much as a fifth of its oil reserves indefinitely, providing rich nations pay out at least half the market value of the oil – some $3.6bn – as compensation.
The trail-blazing proposal was first floated in 2007, but it took a step towards reality last week when the UN Development Programme signed an agreement with the Ecuadorean government to be the independent administrator for the project's trust fund. The accord makes Ecuador the only country in the world offering to leave lucrative oil reserves untapped in an attempt to slow climate change.
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